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More Americans Haven’t Paid Their Credit Card Bills in Full in Last 6 Months

More Americans Haven’t Paid Their Credit Card Bills in Full in Last 6 Months

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The number of Americans who haven’t paid their credit card statement balances in full in six months grew last month, according to a new report from CompareCards.com. That’s despite most Americans saying they feel confident in their ability to pay their bills.

The Credit Card Confidence Index from CompareCards.com tracks how confident Americans feel in their ability to pay their credit cards’ monthly statement balance in full now and six months down the road, as well as how often they’ve paid those balances in full in the past six months. The October index is the second monthly edition of this report.

Key findings:

23% of cardholders said they had not paid their monthly credit card statement balance in full in any of the last 6 months – a 4 percentage-point increase over last month.

Not even a single time.

Women are more likely than men (28% versus 20%) to have said they never paid their bills in full in the past six months.

It’s too early to say if we will continue to see more and more people failing to pay their bills for an entire six-month period since this is just the second monthly edition of the Credit Card Confidence Index. However, given Americans’ ongoing confidence in their ability to pay their bills, the drop could simply be a one-month blip.

42% of cardholders said they are “very confident” they can pay their card statement balances in full this month; that’s nearly twice as many as said they’re “not at all” confident.

Debt is growing. APRs are rising. Americans, meanwhile, continue to be confident in their ability to handle their business when it comes to their credit cards.

More than 40% of American credit cardholders (42%) said they are very confident in their ability to pay their statement balances off in full this month, rating their confidence level a 5 out of 5. In all, 56% of Americans rated their confidence level a 4 or 5.

Just 22% of cardholders said they were “not at all” confident in being able to pay their card statement balances in full this month.

There continues to be a stark divide between men and women regarding confidence levels. More than 1 in 4 women (27%) said they were “not at all” confident in their ability to pay their card statement balances in full this month, while only 18% of men said the same.

Republicans were more likely than Democrats to feel “very confident” in their ability to pay the bills.

Nearly half of Republican credit cardholders (46%) said they were very confident they could pay their monthly credit card statement balance in full this month. Just 40% of Democrats said the same, as did 39% of Independents.

That disparity makes sense when you take a closer look at the survey’s results. Men, older Americans and wealthier Americans – all groups most commonly identified with the Republican party – were more likely than their counterparts to say they were confident in their ability to pay the bills in question.

The bottom line: Is this a blip, or a trend or somewhere in between?

Again, it’s too early to make any judgments, and the truth is that there’s data out there to support both sides.

My gut reaction is that this is a blip. The economy is generally strong. Unemployment is at record lows. Consumer confidence is high. Delinquencies are still tiny. That makes it seem likely that people will continue to handle their business and this down month will not start a trend.

However, it is possible that the trend will continue. Credit card debt continues to grow. Credit card APRs keep climbing. Plus, the holiday shopping season is almost upon us. That means bigger bills and likely more struggles when it comes time to pay.

Methodology

CompareCards by LendingTree commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,069 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the general population. The survey was fielded Oct. 9-10, 2018, and the margin for error for all respondents is +/- 3%.


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