Budgeting Benefits Help Banks Appeal to 23% of Consumers Who Don’t Have Credit Cards

If you’re reading this, chances are you have a credit card, as nearly 200 million Americans do — with many holding more than one. And those cards are getting more use than ever, especially in this current economic environment.

“People use credit based on the functionality and flexibility, as well as the security,” Brian Bugg, director of strategic partnerships at Elan Credit Card, told PYMNTS.

He added that, given the current macro realities, popular benefits of credit cards today are about allowing consumers to optimize their spending in real time.

That’s because, with concerns about rising prices and inflation, many consumers are looking for ways to manage their finances effectively.

Credit cards can easily track spending, earn rewards and manage cash flow during uncertain times.

In addition to helping with budgeting, credit cards can also provide a level of credit experience, which can help with other types of spending in a person’s budget.

“It’s important to budget to maintain a healthy credit score, because the credit score impacts cost, interest rates and any purchases that require a credit check,” Bugg explained.

Still, the more likely consumers are to use credit cards for ever-larger shares of their spending, the more likely they are to end up revolving their balances — a situation that can result in a risky balancing act.

PYMNTS’ latest 2023 research shows that 55% of consumers with bank-issued credit cards always or usually pay their card balances in full each month, while 45% — approximately 89 million consumers — carry revolving balances.

Credit cards offer flexibility, though cardmembers should be mindful of their budget and interest rate changes.

The current economic environment emphasizes the need for financial institutions to provide increased support and resources to cardholders. 

“For someone who is a high-spend and revolve-credit user, hypothetically speaking, they probably need some tools to help them stay away from the credit challenges in this inflationary environment,” Bugg said. “For that cohort, they may need to look at how they’re developing their income and look at their personal budget and how they’re spending.”

That’s why, as managing credit card debt becomes increasingly challenging for Americans, budgeting tools and resources are becoming more important for credit card users.

Research in PYMNTS’ latest survey of 2,203 U.S. consumers, “Credit Card Use During Economic Turbulence,” finds that rewards and cash-back programs (31%) and real-time fraud detection alerts (13%) are the top reasons current cardholders would choose one card instead of another.

Additionally, consumers who do not hold cards are most interested in credit card products that offer holder-controlled flexible spending limits (15%).

By offering these tools and resources, issuers can not only help users manage their finances but also build a longer-term relationship with them.

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Card benefits can help drive conversion

The 23% of consumers who do not hold a credit card are a potentially untapped opportunity — but only if the right card features that improve their financial health, while mollifying their concerns are made available to them.

Credit cards have long been a staple in personal finance, offering a convenient way to make purchases and earn rewards points. But for some, the idea of using a credit card can be daunting and full of concerns about safety and overspending.

However, according to Bugg, there are many ways to use credit cards as a budget tool and still maintain financial security.

“It’s an opportunity for the industry to get stronger and better, both from a card member perspective with having good tools to help manage credit, and also for issuers and managing risk,” Bugg said. 

He explained that consumers can “simply pay their bill monthly, weekly, even daily,” and use their credit card as a budget tool that also provides rewards and benefits to boost financial health and help users make better decisions while avoiding debt.

By using credit cards responsibly and taking advantage of available tools and resources, consumers can effectively manage their budgets and build their credit scores. Financial institutions can also benefit from offering these tools and resources, as they help manage credit risk and build stronger relationships with their customers.