65% of Americans Have Made a Purchase with a Credit Card in the Last 12 Months 

Credit cards are the gold standard for payments in America. Sixty-five percent of the U.S. population — 168 million adults — have made a purchase using a credit card in the last 12 months, according to The Convenience Catalyst, a PYMNTS and Elan collaboration based on insights drawn from a survey of 2,094 adult American regular credit card users. 

Get the report: The Convenience Catalyst: How Customer Experience Features Drive Credit Card Usage 

The two types of payments consumers most commonly make with credit cards are online payments and in-store payments. Forty-three percent of consumers made online payments with a credit card and 39% made in-store payments with a credit card. Smaller percentages of consumers used a credit card to make subscription payments, bill payments and over-the-phone payments. 

The top reasons that drive consumers’ use of credit cards are convenience and usage-based rewards. When consumers were asked why they use credit cards, 27% said convenience was the most important reason, and 25% cited rewards programs as the most important. The third most common reason for using credit cards — fraud detection — was named by 13% of consumers. 

When the responses are sorted by the consumers’ family type, the same two reasons remain at the top of the list. However, singles are most interested in reward programs, ranking them higher than convenience. 

When it comes to choosing between different credit cards, among the most common attributes are security, interest rates and rewards programs. Among consumers of all financial lifestyles, the most commonly cited factor influencing their choice of credit cards is the safety measures taken. 

For consumers who do not live paycheck to paycheck, rewards programs are ranked second in importance. For the other two financial lifestyles identified in the study — consumers who live paycheck to paycheck but are comfortable, and consumers who live paycheck to paycheck with difficulty — interest rates or fees applied are the second most commonly cited reason for choosing a credit card.