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Why fewer people want credit cards

By Jeanine Skowronski ·
Monday, May 5, 2014
Posted: 5 pm ET

More Americans are eschewing credit cards.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 29 percent of Americans do not own any credit cards, up from 22 percent in 2008. The average number of credit cards in our wallets has also gone down from 2.9 in 2008 to 2.6 cards in 2014.

Number of Credit Cards Americans Have

None 1 to 2 3 to 4 5 to 6 7 or more
April, 2014 None 29% 1 to 2: 33% 3 to 4: 18% 5 to 6: 9% 7 or more: 7%
April, 2008 None 22% 1 to 2: 35% 3 to 4: 22% 5 to 6: 11% 7 or more: 9%
April, 2006 None 20% 1 to 2: 35% 3 to 4: 23% 5 to 6: 11% 7 or more: 9%

Source: Gallup

Gallup did not include questions about why more people had less plastic in the poll, so it couldn't provide any direct data on the trends. However, there's a good chance the Great Recession and its lingering effects on the economy are contributing to the drop.

"Having credit card debt is more taboo than ever in the history of credit cards," John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at CreditSesame, says.

Post-crisis regulation -- specifically The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, or CARD Act -- has made it harder for individuals under 21 to get a credit card. (They now need to have a job or a co-signer.) And, while credit standards are starting to ease up, some issuers remain reluctant to do business with people who are risky.

To a lesser degree, "the marketing of prepaid debit cards has gotten more and more aggressive," Ulzheimer says, which has taken business from traditional revolving credit cards.

Migrating solely to debit, however, may not be the best idea. In fact, "that's bad financial advice," Ulzheimer says, given that a solid credit history is integral to securing a mortgage or an auto loan.

"There's really no better alternative to a traditional revolving credit card when it comes to portable capacity and aggressive fraud protections," he adds.

How many credit cards do you carry in your wallet? Have you completely given up on credit? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!

Follow me on Twitter: @JeanineSko.

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Roland Krueger
May 18, 2014 at 5:40 pm

I don't carry a credit card because I refuse to be the victim of financial rape!! The FED has kept interest rates at historically low rates, the banks have tightened lending requirements and still credit card rates are in the 20% plus rate!!! Congress needs to reinstate usary laws to cap interest rates at realistic/affordable levels.