NerdWallet’s credit-card research team spends thousands of hours per year looking at data from government, financial services, and other sources in order to identify trends, opportunities, and dangers that consumers need to be aware of. These links point to our most popular research.

NerdWallet data analysis of other topics, including student loans, banking and mortgages, can be found at .

American Household Credit Card Debt Study

Each winter, NerdWallet analyses data from multiple sources including the Federal Reserve, U.S. Census Bureau and other sources to determine how much debt Americans have, how it is growing and why.

  • 2022 study Credit card debt rises as Americans grapple with inflation and look forward with greater anxiety.

  • 2021 study : Many will struggle to recover from the rising cost of living, while their incomes have fallen.

  • 2020 study : Wide disparities in debt numbers hide the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating effects on families’ finances.

  • 2019 study : Income growth is equal to the cost for living, except for medical expenses.

  • 2018 study: Student loan forgiveness increases debt loads While forbearance allows borrowers the ability to suspend repayments, interest continues to mount.

  • 2017 study : Tens of Millions of Americans have medical debt on credit cards because the cost of living keeps rising faster than income.

  • 2016 study : The level of household debt has returned to pre-Great Recession levels, but this doesn’t mean that there will be another downturn.

  • 2015 study: Unsustainable spending is not the only cause of debt. It is caused by incomes that are not keeping pace with inflation.

Study Travel Credit Card Study

Each spring, NerdWallet analyzes travel trends and frequent-flyer program offers to help you get the most value from your travel credit cards.

  • Study 2022: Most Americans plan to travel to get rid of the pandemic. However, millions more are still waiting.

  • 2021 study Travel credit card holders have accumulated a lot of miles and points during the pandemic.

  • 2019 study While travel credit cards can be very valuable, many people overestimate their value.

  • 2018 study : Americans who do not use travel credit cards miss out hundreds of dollars worth of free travel each year.

  • 2017 study When is it better to use airline points than cash?

  • 2016 study Americans miss big bonuses for applying for travel cards when they are not the best time.

Annual Consumer Credit Card Report

Each summer and fall, NerdWallet reviews the credit card landscape in order to identify key trends for consumers.

  • Study 2022: Inflation drives up the cost to live, so consumers turn to credit cards for help. However, ignorance about credit card workings can cause problems.

  • 2021 Study : Nearly one in five cardholders had their credit limits reduced during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This caused distress and led many to rethink their approach to cards.

  • 2020 study : When the COVID-19 crisis turned financial lives upside down, Americans turned to their credit card companies for help. They found that they are not willing to pay for hardship assistance.

  • 2019 study: Nearly half the Americans who have credit cards are in debt from month to month. This debt is getting more expensive as the average interest rate has increased by 35% over five years.

  • 2018 study: Americans are insolvent on credit card debts of billions. It’s not overspending that is the most common reason people miss their payments. It’s simply forgetfulness.

  • 2017 study Unsecured cards targeted at people with bad credit often have high fees and very low limits, leaving cardholders permanently maxed out.

  • 2016 study: People with poor credit are a large market and predatory issuers take advantage. Subprime credit card debt can be more costly.

  • 2015 study: EMV Shift could paradoxically lead more fraud Some rewards card holders are paying high annual fees. Applying for cards should be done with caution by millennials.

Psychology of Debt

NerdWallet examines the psychological aspects of credit card debt. It examines the relationship between emotion, debt and how it makes us feel.

  • 2020 study: Nearly 25% of Americans don’t have credit histories or are just beginning to build one. Credit cards are a subject of debate. Are they helpful? “Dangerous”? “Complicated”? “Evil”? All of the above?

  • 2018 study: Credit card debt is linked to regret. Nevertheless, 7 out of 10 respondents said they would take on credit card debt to cover certain expenses.

  • 2017 study Half of Americans overspend emotionally, but 87% are embarrassed to admit they have credit card debt.

  • 2016 study : More Americans believe there is more stigma associated with credit card debt than other types of debt.

Other credit card studies