Survey Compares Credit Card Use by People who are Struggling to Pay their Bills to People Who are Economically Stable

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A consumer survey conducted by drills below national economic news and credit card statistics to look at the differences between credit card users and non-users in the still faltering economy.

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To drill below the national economic news and credit card statistics, CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education Web site, surveyed 368 consumers online in February 2012 to consider the width of the divide between people who say they are struggling to pay their bills each month and those who say they are not. The preliminary study was not designed to yield broadly representative data about all Americans, but rather, it looks at specific consumers to compare their perceptions about their own financial stability to their use of credit cards and their payment behaviors.

Survey Analysis:

As expected, the survey generated many questions for further study along with some troubling indicators, all of which revealed key areas where CreditDonkey can continue to contribute to the consumer financial education needs of credit card users.


  • Are some people going into debt to buy gas? Forty-five percent of those surveyed who say gasoline is the most frequent purchase they make with their credit cards also say they pay the minimum amount due on their statements or just a little more each month. These credit card users are at risk of falling into debt for a consumable and necessary item, which is a worst-case personal economic scenario that will get worse as fuel prices skyrocket.
  • Who are the people who make the minimum payment on their credit card bills? People surveyed who say they are financially distressed are among the most likely to pay the minimum amount due or a little more. Although it is impossible to know from this data whether paying the minimum amount is the reason people are struggling or whether they pay the minimum because they are struggling, it is a good bet, based on this data, that paying the minimum amount is closely connected to their financial situation as well as their knowledge—or lack of knowledge—about the drawbacks of paying such a tiny amount each month.

New disclosures on statements may not be a remedy for their struggles, which corroborates data collected by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that shows 70 percent of consumers have noticed new information about making minimum payments, yet only 31 percent of cardholders who recall seeing the new information on their statements report that this information has caused them either to increase the payments they make or to reduce their use of credit.

“The long-term interest costs for people who pay only the minimum amount due on their credit card statements are enormous,” said Charles Tran, founder of CreditDonkey, “So it was disappointing to find that a good number of these people are primarily using their credit cards to buy gas. Whether out of necessity or lack of knowledge, people who primarily use their credit cards to buy gas and regularly pay the minimum amount due are headed for an economic death spiral as gas prices rise.”

To learn more about the survey, visit

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Charles Tran
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