In the United States, credit cards remain the most common electronic payment type used by U.S. consumer households, followed closely by debit cards. An improving economy and a shift toward e-commerce and m-commerce, credit cards are gaining ground relative to other types of payments, especially for paying online.

Rewards are integral to credit card use. More valuable rewards, lower fees, and higher credit limits are most likely to stimulate more credit card spending, especially among the young and mobile-enabled according to our data. In an improving economy, consumers are more likely to pay their credit card balances in full and are less resistant to credit card use.

The Mercator Advisory Group Insight Summary Report, Consumers and Credit: Rising Usage, focuses on understanding cardholders’ behavior and card use in the United States by reviewing which consumer demographic segments are using credit cards, the usage of co-branded credit or charge cards, participation in reward programs, preferred rewards and value, payment card types preferred by consumers for online purchases and bill payment, applications for new cards, changes to card features, frequency of merchants’ restrictions on credit card use or discounts for other payment forms, and consumer reaction to these merchant rules as well as interest in and use of mobile-based account controls on credit and debit cards to avoid fraud or to impose cardholder-controlled restrictions on credit card use.

Throughout the report, we investigate opportunities for issuers to stimulate greater credit card use and factors to motivate more spending or borrowing on the cards and factors most important to U.S. consumers’ card selection.