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Credit cardholders’ confidence remained high in March, according to the latest CompareCards.com Credit Card Confidence Index, as the percentage of cardholders who claimed to be “not at all” confident in paying their statement balances in full this month tied a seven-month low.
Each month, CompareCards.com asks American cardholders about how confident they are in their ability to pay their credit card bills. We ask them whether they feel they’ll be able to pay this month’s balances in full, how often in the past six months they’ve paid their balances in full and – new this month – how often they expect to pay their bills in full in the next six months.
This month’s results show that cardholders continue to exude confidence. Whether looking ahead, looking back or focusing on today, Americans feel in control when it comes to their credit cards, despite the ever-growing mountain of debt they’re accumulating.
- Just 18% of cardholders said they were “not at all” confident paying their entire monthly statement balance in full in March, tying the lowest number in the survey’s seven-month history. 47% said they were “very” confident, up 1 percentage point from February.
- When asked how often they paid their entire statement balance in the past six months, 32% said they had paid in full in each of the past six months (down from 38% last month). However, just 19% (down from 23%) said they had paid in full in zero of the last six months.
- 35% of cardholders expect to pay their entire statement balance in full in each of the next six months, compared to just 15% who don’t expect to do it a single time.
- The older you are AND the younger you are, the more likely you are to expect to pay your entire statement balance in full this month.
- The average man with a credit card paid their statement balances in full in four of the last six months, while the average woman did so three times.
The bottom line: Smart financial moves can keep confidence high.
I’ve said it many times before: Confidence is great until it leads to complacency and inaction. The truth is that many Americans’ confidence is just one job loss, medical emergency or unexpected expense away from being shattered. Their financial margin for error is just that slim, so it is absolutely crucial to take steps to protect yourself before the economy takes a turn.
Here are some things you can do:
- Make a budget: It all starts here. You can’t make a meaningful plan to knock down credit card debt if you don’t know exactly how much money is coming in and going out of your household each month. Take the time to list out all of your income and all of your expenses, and then make some choices about where you can make some meaningful changes.
- Lower your credit card APRs: You’ve got options here, especially if your credit is good. Call your card issuer to see if it will lower your card’s APR. (You’d be stunned how often it works.) Get yourself a 0-percent balance transfer card, which can help you avoid paying interest for more than a year. Either choice is fine. What’s not acceptable is paying high interest rates when you don’t need to.
- Put more away for a rainy day: If you’re struggling with credit card debt in good economic times, it means you’re probably not putting enough money away for a rainy day. That’s a big mistake. As you make your budget, prioritize finding extra money – even just a little bit – to save each month. Cutting the cable cord? Put the savings in an emergency fund. Same for your earnings from a garage sale or a side hustle. Of course, your credit card bills should remain a top priority as well. Just don’t ignore the need to save as well.
- Get your credit in order: This is a big one. If you haven’t checked your credit report lately, go to AnnualCreditReport.com to get your free reports from all three credit bureaus today. Then, come back to CompareCards.com and sign up for our free My LendingTree service, which gives you ongoing free access your TransUnion credit report and your VantageScore credit score. Your credit report is an indispensable roadmap to help you get your finances in order and to help combat identity theft. It can show you, all in one place, what mistakes you’ve made in the past year and where you need to focus your debt-reduction efforts. You can also see if there is any fraudulent activity or any reporting errors that are holding your credit back and need to be reported. They’re more common than you realize, and the last thing you want is to pay for credit mistakes you didn’t make.
Any one of these moves can help your boost your financial confidence. Done all together, they can send it through the roof. Whatever you decide, however, it’s important to take some sort of action. It may not be earth-shattering, it may require other sacrifices, and it may not be much fun, but when tough times come, you’ll be able to face those hardships with more confidence because you did it.
CompareCards by LendingTree commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,284 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the general population. The survey was fielded Mar. 5-8, 2019, and the margin for error for all respondents is +/- 2.7%.