Large Majority of Americans View Credit Cards as Important to the U.S. Economy and to Small Businesses

Majorities See Specific Benefits for Consumers and Retailers as Well

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

New York, NY – Nearly three quarters (72%) of adults feel that credit cards are important to the U.S. economy and more than three quarters (77%) believe credit cards are important to small businesses, according to a new poll of over 1,000 adults conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of the American Bankers Association.

Moreover, nearly eight in ten (78%) believe that credit cards help local economies by giving consumers and local retailers more payment options.

Importance of Credit Cards to the Economy

More than three in four adults (78%) believe that credit cards help small businesses start and grow by offering them the financial resources they need to succeed, such as a line of credit and an easy way of accepting payments.

Credit cards are also seen as being important or beneficial to retailers in terms of how transactions are conducted. Over eight in ten respondents (83%) say that credit cards generate more sales for retailers by giving consumers additional options for payment outside of cash and checks, and seven in ten (72%) say that they make it easier for retailers to process payments in person at the checkout line.

Importance of Credit Cards to Consumers

Majorities of adults also view credit cards as beneficial and important to consumers. Three in four (74%) say that credit cards make it easier for consumers to pay in person at the checkout line, and nearly as many (70%) say that credit cards are one of the only ways consumers can pay for online purchases.

Moreover, eight in ten (80%) say that credit cards help consumers make necessary purchases, like paying for doctor’s visits, when they don’t have cash on hand.

Patterns of Credit Card Use

Three quarters (76%) of Americans have at least one credit card (not including ATM or debit cards). Over half (57%) of those with at least one credit card say that they personally use a credit card at least once a week. Many cardholders tend to use their cards for basic purchases; half (50%) report using their cards for everyday expenses like groceries and gas. Others tend to use them for indulgences like summer vacations or toys for kids (29%), while about one in five reserve them for larger or unexpected expenses, such as only for large expenses over $100 (25%) or in case of an emergency (21%).

Motivations for Using Credit Cards

Americans’ top reason for using a credit card varies, illustrating the diverse set of features credit cards provide consumers. One in five cardholders (21%) say that using a credit card as a short-term loan with no interest (providing they pay off their balance each month) is their primary reason for using their cards. Nearly as many say that credit cards allow them to make purchases for which they do not have the cash immediately available (18%) or that they like accumulating and using points (18%).

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted April 16 – April 18, 2013. For the survey, a national sample of 1,208 adults aged 18 and older from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel were interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of 1,208 and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire adult population of adults in the United States had been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Rebecca Sizelove
Associate Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
New York, NY

About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.

Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. In the U.S., UK and internationally, Ipsos Public Affairs is the media polling supplier to Reuters News, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, and the Hispanic polling partner of Telemundo Communications Group, a division of NBC Universal providing Spanish-language content to U.S. Hispanics and audiences around the world.

Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.

To learn more visit:

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. In October 2011 Ipsos completed the acquisition of Synovate. The combination forms the world’s third largest market research company.

With offices in 85 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,789 billion (2.300 billion USD) in 2012.

Large Majority of Americans View Credit Cards as Important to the U.S. Economy and to Small Businesses

Downloads PDF

Press Release


Elen Alexov
Director, Marketing Services,
North America