About a third of Americans say they either exclusively make holiday season purchases using credit cards (15%) or that they make more purchases on credit than they do using cash or debit cards (17%). Thirteen percent (13%) use each in equal measure, while roughly half (49%) say they use cash/debit either predominately (20%) or exclusively (29%).
According to the Harris Poll a majority of Matures (54%) say they predominately (or exclusively) use credit cards for their holiday season spending, compared to roughly four in ten Baby Boomers (42%), over a fourth of Gen Xers (27%) and just under two in ten Millennials (18%). Six in ten Asians (60%) say the same, vs. nearly four in ten Whites (38%), a quarter of Hispanics (25%) and fewer than two in ten Blacks (17%).
For those who use credit cards with a rewards program and pay it off quickly rather than carry over a balance from month to month, credit spending can be a useful part of one’s financial toolbox. But are Americans paying it off quickly or carrying lingering debt? Among those who typically use credit cards for any of their holiday spending, over six in ten (62%) say they pay it off either right away (39%) or within a month (23%).
However, roughly three in ten (31%) hold onto their holiday debt over longer periods. Specifically, 15% say they pay it off within three months, 8% within six months, and another 8% say it takes them longer than six months to pay off the debt.
It turns out that those most likely to use credit cards for at least some of their holiday season purchases are also most likely to pay it off quickly. Among those who do any holiday season spending on credit, Matures (81%) and Baby Boomers (69%) are far more likely than Gen Xers (50%) and Millennials (52%) to say they typically pay off this debt either right away or within a month.
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