Consumers are showing renewed interest in using charge cards instead of credit or debit to make purchases, an analyst said.
"The consumer sentiment is different now," said Megan Bramlette, managing director at Auriemma Consulting Group. "People are wary of credit cards now and, more importantly, people are wary of debt."
American Express Co. this month kicked off an advertising campaign that promotes the advantages of charge cards, and Bramlette said other issuers, around the world, are doing similar promotions. "This is an international phenomenon, not just Amex in the U.S.," she said.
Debit card use is also increasing as consumers try to avoid debt, but Bramlette said charge cards have some advantages over debit, notably security. "One huge danger for debit is that identity-theft protection is minimal. That is the real driver in people's decisions" to use charge over debit.
Amex said charge cards have other benefits over debit.
"We want consumers to see how they can take control of their finances and still stay out of debt while making their money work harder for them than other cards may allow," an Amex representative said by e-mail. "In the ads, when we talk about how charge helps you build a credit history, that is not something that debit can do. Not all cards offer protections or valuable rewards programs."