The credit card industry is recovering from serious challenges encountered in the past few years. Too many consumers loaded up on debt before the recession and many are now either working out payment plans or they filed for bankruptcy and need a fresh financial start.  At the same time, the federal government passed sweeping financial reforms designed to prevent credit card companies and consumers from contributing to another economic bubble. These factors mean credit card companies will be marketing to key demographic groups to find new customers.

In total, 68% of consumers have at least 1 credit card. But the rate of credit card ownership, especially for 2+ cards, varies greatly by ethnic group, age group and income group.

Examining the demographics of credit card use can provide insight into which consumers may be targeted by these companies.

Here’s how the numbers break out by ethnic category for consumers who currently have between 2-12 credit or gas cards.

  • Asian Americans 64%
  • White 55%
  • Hispanics 44%
  • African American 34%

Consumers with higher incomes also use more credit cards. The percentage of consumers with 2-12 credit or gas cards by income break out as follows:

  • Under $25,000 23%
  • Between $25,000-$75,000 59%
  • Over $75,000 77%

Between 2009 and 2010, the number of consumers holding credit cards  decreased over 10%.  Credit card companies will need to increase marketing campaigns to attract consumers to this convenient payment format in order to restore profitability. By marketing to younger consumers – the average age that younger consumers, under 35, begin using cards is 20.8 years – and Asian Americans, companies in this industry can increase sales.

[Sources:  Financial Capability in the United States. FINRA Investor Education Foundation and Applied Research & Consulting. 1 Dec. 2009. Web. 2 Aug. 2010; Woolsey, Ben and Schulz, Matt. Credit Card Statistics. Creditcard.com. Web. 2 Aug. 2010]