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3 in 4 Cardholders Have a Card Issued by Their Primary Bank

3 in 4 Cardholders Have a Card Issued by Their Primary Bank

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This article was last updated Dec 03, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

Nearly three-quarters of cardholders have a credit card issued by their primary bank — the bank where they have their main checking account — according to a new report from CompareCards, and it could be causing them to miss out on opportunities to shop around for a better deal.

The two groups most likely to have a credit card from their primary bank, and who prefer using this card over others, are men and millennials. The survey examined 731 cardholders and broke down responses by gender, age, and household income. Let’s dig in and look at what the numbers mean, as well as how you can make sure you’re getting a card that really works for you.

In this article:

Key findings

  • Nearly 3 in 4 cardholders have at least one credit card issued by their primary bank. The exact percentage is 71.55% of respondents.
  • 60% of cardholders received credit card-related promotional materials from their primary bank within the last year.
  • Most cardholders said they prefer to use credit cards issued by their primary bank: 57% indicated this preference, while 31% were indifferent. Just 11% said they do not prefer using their main bank’s credit card.
  • Men and millennials are more likely to have their primary bank’s credit card than women and older generations. Men and millennials also reported a strong preference for using a credit card issued by their bank.
  • Higher earners reported receiving promotional materials related to their primary bank’s credit cards at a larger rate than those who earn less. However, income levels did not dictate whether a cardholder had one of those products, or their preference as far as using cards issued by their bank.

Why do most cardholders use their primary bank’s credit card?

So what’s behind 71.55% of respondents having at least one credit card issued by their primary bank? For one thing, once you’ve got a checking account with a bank, they have an established relationship and can easily market other financial products to you, whether that be on signs when you visit a physical branch or through web ads you encounter as you log into your online banking account.

Plus, it’s a simple matter of convenience to go with what’s familiar to you.

“Many people use their primary bank’s credit card just because it is simpler,” said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards. “We all have to-do lists that are a mile long, and the last thing most folks want to do is think about their credit cards, so sticking with the bank you know makes a lot of sense.”

6 in 10 cardholders received card-related promotional materials from their primary bank

While a total of 60.33% of respondents reported receiving credit card-related promotional materials from their main bank, the numbers varied significantly among different age groups. For example, 71.32% of respondents in the 23-38 age range had received such materials, contrasted with only 47.14% of those in the 55-73 age group.

Read: How to Check if I’m Prequalified for a Credit Card

“Every bank in this country wants to do business with wealthy millennials,” Schulz said. “Those folks have money today, figure to have more money in the future, and should be lucrative customers for banks for years to come. They’ll be potentially lucrative for banks because of the possibility of upselling them on mortgages and other financial products.”

Millennials and men strongly prefer using their bank’s credit card

A whopping 80.62% of those aged 23-38 have at least one credit card issued by their primary bank, and 69.38% of respondents in that age range say they prefer to use cards issued by their main bank. By contrast, 58.10% of those aged 55-73 have at least one card from their primary bank, and only 43.81% of respondents in that age range say they prefer to use such a card.

There’s also a notable gender split. Out of all male respondents, 79.77% have at least one card from their bank, and 62.72% prefer to use a credit card from their bank over one from another issuer. Among female respondents, the numbers were 64.16% and 52.21%, respectively.

“Generally, women are more cautious and conservative with their finances than men,” Schulz said. “Every survey we do shows that. Thus, it stands to reason that women would be less likely to settle for an offer from their bank and more likely to spend some time comparison shopping to ensure they get the best deal.”

Is your primary bank’s credit card right for you?

There are situations where using a credit card issued by your primary bank is a solid choice. For example, if you’re new to credit or you’re rebuilding damaged credit, it might be easier in some cases to get a credit card from a bank with whom you have an established relationship. Your bank is likely to have more insight into your holistic financial picture because you already have accounts with them.

Another example of how you can benefit from using a card issued by your primary bank is if your bank offers the opportunity to get higher rewards for banking with them. Bank of America, for instance, has a program called Preferred Rewards where you can earn more cash back on credit card rewards and savings account interest, depending on what the qualifying combined balances are in your Bank of America and/or Merrill investment accounts.

However, depending on what your needs are, you might be able to find a better card by shopping around. If you want to do a balance transfer, for example, you might benefit from the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever and its introductory 0% APR offer of 0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers. After the intro period expires, the APR is 14.74% - 24.74% (variable).

Or if you want to earn a generous amount of cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases, cards like the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express or Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express could help you do that.

CompareCards offers a card vs. card tool where you can drag and drop the cards you want to examine, then see how they stack up for criteria such as APR, rewards, and more.

  • 0% for 12 months on Purchases

  • 0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers

  • 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)

Highlights
  • No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months from date of first transfer. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • If you transfer a balance with this offer, after your 0% Intro purchase APR expires, both new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances, including your transferred balances, are paid in full
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
  • Stay protected with Citi® Quick Lock and $0 liability on unauthorized charges

See additional details for Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

More Info

  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.

  • 3% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases*

  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.

Highlights
  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 23.99%.
  • Don't wait for your Card in the mail. Start earning cash back before your card even arrives, if eligible for Instant Card Number.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

More Info

  • $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.*

  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions and 1% Cash Back on other purchases.

  • 1% back on other purchases*

Highlights
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more). 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Don't wait for your Card in the mail. Start earning cash back before your card even arrives, if eligible for Instant Card Number.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 23.99%
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

More Info

The bottom line

Just like you’d comparison shop before getting a car or a television, you should comparison shop for credit cards. Your primary bank might be convenient, but make sure it’s the right choice. Some questions to consider is whether your bank card has a competitive APR, a rewards program or other benefits or perks that outperform other cards on the market. If not, then it may make sense to take a look at what other issuers have to offer.

“When shopping for a new credit card, the best advice is some of the oldest: know thyself,” Schulz said. “Figure out how you are likely to use the card and what you want to get from it. If you feel the card from your primary bank fits your needs, great. If not, look elsewhere.”

Methodology

CompareCards by LendingTree commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 731 credit cardholders, with the sample base proportioned to represent the general population. The survey was conducted August 1-5, 2019.


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