A TransUnion analysis has found that credit card loyalty remains intact despite enticing offers and higher spend during the holiday shopping season.
The analysis found that, although consumers possess an average of five general purpose and private-label credit cards, most use only one of them for 78% of their spending during the holiday season. "This finding may be advantageous for both lenders and consumers," said Nidhi Verma, director of research and consulting for TransUnion. "For example, credit card issuers can use new marketing segmentation tools that utilize spend and balance data to seek out certain consumers, knowing that they will remain loyal even as their card spend increases. Further, consumers could benefit by receiving more attractive credit card offers tailored to their usage preferences.” The pattern TransUnion reported remained relatively unchanged from the rest of the year, which averaged 79% spent using one card. Consumers in the super prime risk tier (those with a VantageScore 3.0 credit score 780 or higher) are the most loyal to their preferred card, with 82% of their credit card spend on one card in December. Subprime consumers (those with a VantageScore 3.0 credit score lower than 601) are also loyal to generally one card throughout the year, with spend on that one card-referred to as the "top of wallet" card-declining minimally from 70% the first 11 months of the year to 68% in December. "One might assume card loyalty would decline during the holidays, as retailers and lenders offer attractive perks to encourage use," said Verma. "Our study found that, once consumers identify their preferred credit card, they remain quite devoted throughout the year. Even subprime consumers, who are usually more strapped for cash and rely on credit more heavily, demonstrate this loyalty. While they deviate from their top of wallet card the most during the holiday season, that change is still relatively small.” Customer loyalty to one credit card persists during the holidays despite an overall growth in spend and balances during November and December. TransUnion's analysis found that as of Q3 2015, 161.7 million consumers had access to an open general purpose bankcard, and those consumers carried an average of 2.6 open cards in their wallets. Approximately 113.6 million consumers had access to a private label credit card and carried an average 2.5 open private label cards in their wallets. The volume of consumers with credit cards of either kind has continued to increase, with a 5% rise estimated between the end of 2014 and 2015. "Consumers are increasingly gaining access to credit, and although most consumers have several cards in their wallets, many of these revolving credit lines often go unused," said Verma. "Hence, determining which credit card may be most valued by a consumer is a critical question for lenders."