Americans Have Fewer Credit Cards And Less Debt

Hitting the FiveThirtyEight trifecta, Mona Chalabi on why a Gallup survey finds more and more Americans not owning a credit card:

[From Federal Reserve data on consumer credit,] the turn coincided with the financial crisis of 2008. That makes sense. Since then, banks have tightened their lending standards; many people have lost jobs, and thus access to credit; and some people may have become more cautious about accumulating debt.

Interesting trends: percentage of Americans with credit cards is down, debt per credit card is down, total revolving credit is down.

What’s striking to me, though, is the implication throughout the article that the reason Americans have credit cards is to carry debt. I assumed most Americans carried credit cards for the convenience of not having to carry cash (or worry about how much is in your checking account with a debit card). I always thought of debt as the consequence of misuse, not the intended purpose.

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