More consumers are accessing their credit card accounts online, but only a small percentage are using mobile applications to do so, new research suggests.

For its research, Auriemma Consulting Group polled 509 U.S. adult credit card users online in September.

"We found that for online servicing, a good percentage of consumers are comfortable with online account access but only for things like responding to a card application or going online to check a balance or make a payment," says Bob Taglin, Auriemma director.

Nearly half of the survey respondents said they would apply for a credit card online, while 26% said they would mail in an application, 13% would call a toll-free number and 12% would apply at a bank branch.

In addition, 75% of respondents said they access their credit card accounts online, up noticeably from 64% who said so in a similar survey in March 2009. At that time, the percentage had not gone up much, only from 60% in April of 2006, Auriemma's data show. 

Not many respondents, 13%, said they access their card accounts using a smart phone or tablet, while fewer than 6% accessed account information through text messaging.

Of those who used a mobile application, 90% said they had checked their credit card account balance, and 70% either made payments or viewed their payment history.

"We're posing it as a challenge to get card issuers to use mobile for more online servicing," says Taglin.

Younger consumers and affluent cardholders with incomes of more than $50,000 tend to be more comfortable with online and mobile account access, Taglin notes. "But the question is how to get those consumers to do more," he says.

Supporting other research that suggests consumers respond to incentives, 49% of respondents to the Auriemma survey said offering incentives such as rewards points would encourage them to access their credit card accounts online more often, either through a computer or a mobile device.