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Credit Card Confidence Index: Americans Slightly Less Confident About Paying Credit Card Bills in December

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Americans’ confidence in their ability to pay their monthly credit card statement balances in full dipped slightly in December, according to the latest Credit Card Confidence Index from CompareCards.com.

Each month, CompareCards asks American credit cardholders to rate their confidence in the ability to pay their credit cards’ monthly statement balance in full this month and six months from now (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “not at all” confident and 5 being “very confident”) as well as tracking how often they’ve paid those balances in full in the past six months. This monthly report – which debuted in September 2018 – shows that Americans are clearly confident in their ability to pay their credit card bills, but it also leaves open the possibility that their confidence might have peaked as we near 2019.

Key findings

  • Cardholders’ confidence in paying their monthly credit card statement balances in full this month fell slightly:
    • 61% of cardholders said their confidence level was a 4 or a 5. That’s down from 64% last month, but still up from September and October.
    • 26% of cardholders rated their confidence level a 1 or 2. That’s up from 25% last month, but down from September and October.
  • Cardholders’ confidence in being able to pay the month’s credit card statement balances in full six months from now dipped slightly:
    • 67% of cardholders said their confidence level was a 4 or a 5. That’s down from 71% last month.
    • 18% of cardholders rated their confidence level a 1 or 2. That’s up from 16% last month.
  • 37% of respondents said they paid their monthly card statement balance in full each of the past six months – the highest number since the Index began. However, 20% of respondents said they never paid their statement balances in full a single time during that period.
  • When it comes to handling credit cards, the confidence gap between men and women is shrinking, with 51% of men and 42% of women saying they’re very confident in their ability to pay this month’s statement balances in full.

The bottom line: Slight dip may bode well for 2019.

Given holiday spending and the recent Wall Street roller coaster ride, it’s not surprising to see a bit of a drop in Americans’ confidence in their ability to pay their monthly statement balances. Frankly, the fact that it didn’t dip more may be a testament to just how confident Americans still feel about their finances. If their confidence was fragile, the weight of oncoming holiday bills and nervousness about a shrinking 401(k) might have had a bigger impact.

That seems like a good sign for consumers’ credit card confidence in 2019, and Americans may need that strength in the new year. While the economy is certainly strong today, the next few months hold many potential landmines as people wrestle with increasing debt, rising interest rates, an unpredictable political landscape and a volatile stock market. Given those reasons and more, I will be surprised if Americans’ credit card confidence is as high in December 2019 as it is today. For now, however, there’s no question that most Americans will start the new year confident in their ability to pay their credit card bills in 2019.


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