Consumer Payment Card News

Free-Loaders

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The number of Americans paying-off credit card balances in-full each month has edged down for the third consecutive year. After peaking at 44.4% in 2000, the number of free-loaders, who avoid paying credit card interest charges, has slipped to 38.3%, about the same level as 1995. Throughout the 1990s, the number of convenience users steadily increased, rising from 28.6% in 1990, to 43.4% in 1999. The decline in the 2000s is attributed to both the general economy and historically low interest rates. Some consumers may have switched back to revolving as personal income dropped, while others find 0% APRs, and other super low interest rates, provide little incentive to pay-off in-full each month. Overall, Americans pay back an average of 14% to 16% of their credit card balances each month. The range has been fairly stable over the past four years. For the month of January, cardholders paid back, on average, 16.02% of their credit card debts, above the rate of 15.68% recorded in January 2003.

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