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Credit Card Confidence Index
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How are Americans feeling about their ability to pay off their credit card bills?
That’s what we track every month with the LendingTree Credit Card Confidence Index — our exclusive monthly look at the mindset and payment habits of American credit cardholders.
- How the Credit Card Confidence Index works
- The latest: Cardholder confidence bounces back
- Key findings
- Short-term, long-term confidence rebound — but not fully
- Gender gap spikes again as men drive July rebound
- The bottom line: Smaller changes likely ahead
- Prior months
- Media inquiries
How the Credit Card Confidence Index works
Each month, we ask cardholders the following:
- On a scale of 1 (not at all confident) to 5 (very confident), how confident are you that you can pay the monthly statement balance on all your credit cards in full this month?
- How many times have you paid all your monthly statement balances in full in the past six months?
- How often do you expect to do it in the next six months?
On that first question, those who rate their confidence a 4 or 5 are deemed confident, while those who say 1 or 2 are deemed not confident. That’s how we get the short-term confidence percentage. (Example: If we say short-term confidence is at 63%, it means that 63% of cardholders surveyed rated their confidence as a 4 or 5 on that question.)
On the third question, we consider you confident if you say you expect to pay your monthly statement balances in full in at least five of the next six months. That’s how we get our long-term confidence percentage. (Example: If we say that long-term confidence is at 52%, it means that 52% of cardholders surveyed said they expect to pay their monthly statement in full either five or six times in the next six months.)
We also ask those who say they’re not confident in the long term why they feel that way. We present our findings, along with analysis on trends and how they fit in the general context of the economy as a whole, each month in this Credit Card Confidence Index.
The latest: Cardholder confidence bounces back
Credit cardholder confidence rebounded in July, rising 6 percentage points from June’s nearly four-year low.
- Short-term confidence somewhat rebounds: 59% of cardholders say they’re confident in paying their card’s monthly statement balance in full this month. That’s a 6-point jump from June’s record low but is still the second-lowest rate since November 2021.
- Long-term confidence bounces back more strongly: 47% of cardholders say they expect to pay their cards’ monthly statement balances in full in at least five of the next six months. That’s an 8-point jump from June’s record low, though it remains the second-lowest rate since November 2021.
- Men drove July’s rebound: The percentage of men expressing short-term confidence in July grew 11 points from the prior month to 71%. Meanwhile, the percentage of women saying the same grew by just 2 points to 47%. That pushed the confidence gap between the genders to 24 percentage points, matching the gap in January 2020 — the biggest in the nearly four-year history of the Confidence Index.
Short-term, long-term confidence rebound — but not fully
To recap, June was a historic month for the Confidence Index. Both short-term and long-term confidence levels experienced their biggest monthly declines and dropped to their lowest levels in the index’s nearly four-year history.
Heading into July, the question was on the horizon: Were these declines the beginning of a trend or just a blip? For now, at least, the answer appears to be the latter.
Short-term confidence jumped by 6 points and long-term confidence by 8 points in July. Those increases eclipsed some of June’s big declines — but not all of them.
July’s short-term confidence rate was below 60% for the second straight month and just the third month since December 2019. Meanwhile, long-term confidence sat at its second-lowest level since November 2021.
That means there’s room to grow. The new question, however, is whether July’s growth will continue into August. That’s not clear, but the news may not be great if history is any indicator. Short-term confidence has fallen, at least slightly, in each of the past three Augusts, while long-term confidence has dipped in two of the past three.
Gender gap spikes again as men drive July rebound
The gender gap is nothing new in the Confidence Index. Since the index debuted in September 2018, the percentage of men saying they’re confident in paying their credit card’s monthly statement balance in full that month has never been fewer than 7 points higher than the percentage of women saying the same. In fact, the gap has been in the single digits only eight times in almost four years.
Even by those standards, however, July is different.
More than 7 in 10 men (71%) expressed short-term confidence in July, compared with just 47% of women. That 24-point gap matches the one in January 2020 — the biggest since we began tracking in September 2018 and a 9-point increase from June.
That increase is significant, but it continues a trend in recent months. The gap between the percentage of confident men and women hasn’t decreased since February.
- February 2022: Gender gap was 10 points
- March: 13 points
- April: 14 points
- May: 14 points
- June: 15 points
- July: 24 points
That’s a troubling trend. I don’t expect the gap to widen in the coming months, simply because it’s already so high. However, I don’t expect it to drop into the single digits anytime soon either.
The bottom line: Smaller changes likely ahead
After two straight months of big swings, I’m not expecting a third. Neither an increase nor a decrease in confidence next month would surprise me greatly — though the past three Augusts have seen at least a small decrease in short-term confidence — but another large move in either direction would.
In the next six months to a year, I expect the overall trend in short-term confidence to be downward. Consumers are facing too many headwinds, such as higher credit card balances, constantly rising interest rates and rampant inflation, not to be affected at least somewhat.
This doesn’t mean I expect delinquencies to rise dramatically or confidence to plunge. It just means that people’s financial margin for error may shrink in the coming months. When that happens, more people may start paying most of their credit card statement balances each month instead of all of them. When that happens, confidence gets a little weaker.
In any case, a cardholder’s best move is to pay down their debts as soon as possible. Whether that’s done by calling their card issuer and asking for a lower APR, opening a new 0% balance transfer credit card, getting a low-interest personal loan or consulting a credit counselor, it’s important to start taking those steps today. That credit card debt will only get more expensive if ignored, and that’s the last thing anyone needs.
- June: Cardholder confidence plunges
- May: Cardholder confidence ticks lower
- April: Cardholder confidence jumps
LendingTree commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,293 credit cardholders from July 8-15, 2022. The survey was administered using a nonprobability-based sample, and quotas were used to ensure the sample base represented the overall population. All responses were reviewed by researchers for quality control.