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Why do you use credit cards?

Credit Card Families_B2I’m using credit cards these days mostly to accumulate rewards points.

That’s not the reason most consumers use them, according to a survey conducted for Bankrate.com, a personal finance website.

If credit card issuers stopped offering rewards, most American credit cardholders wouldn’t change their spending habits, the survey shows.

Some European issuers have begun eliminating the points, frequent-flier miles, cash back, and other rewards that can come with credit cards due to regulatory changes.

If the same thing happened in the United States, 51 percent of American credit cardholders say they would keep using the card the same way they did previously. Twenty-six percent would use the card less often and 19 percent would stop using it entirely.

The single biggest reason Americans use credit cards is because they’re easier and more convenient than paying with cash – 40 percent of respondents gave that answer. Financing emergency expenses was second at 19 percent, and earning rewards ranked third with 14 percent.

Only one in nine U.S. credit cardholders are “very” or “somewhat” likely to let their credit card issuer share information about them with outside parties, such as merchants and marketers, in exchange for more rewards points. Seventy-two percent are “not at all” likely to allow this practice.

“Credit cards offer a lot of purchasing power, but you have to find one with terms and conditions that are right for your lifestyle,” said Jeanine Skowronski, Bankrate.com’s credit card analyst. “Big spenders who don’t carry a balance should definitely consider rewards when determining which cards are in – or at the top of – their wallets.”

Skowronski said when issuers change the terms of their credit cards, consumers can ask for a different product or do research to find a more cost-effective option.

Copyright 2015, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

Comments

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Kitty

Rewards don't have much to do with whether I use a credit card. However, they have a great deal to do with which card I use.

I use credit cards primarily because of (1) convenience, (2) easy to track, and (3) the ability to dispute and protections make credit cards superior to debit cards. However, I use the card that gives me the best reward. So, if a card I was using now quit giving a meaningful reward then I would use another card that gave a reward.

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