TD Bank’s annual 2023 Consumer Spending Index reveals that 4 out of 5 consumers have had their spending habits impacted by inflation, with more than half of them turning to discounts and promotions (57%) and seeking lower-priced options (53%) to combat inflation.
The survey polled more than 1,000 Americans to gauge shifts in consumer spending behaviors and credit usage. As inflation continues to impact all Americans, respondents are prioritizing rewards and showing signs of high financial literacy – underscoring the importance of responsible financing during economic instability.
“Consumers are undoubtedly continuing to feel the impact of inflation and rising interest rates,” said Chris Fred, head of credit cards and unsecured lending at TD. “And it is not surprising that so many consumers are proactively doing their homework, speaking to financial professionals for pointed advice, and seeking strategic ways to offset these rising costs, like identifying more available discounts or cost-effective alternatives.”
With rising costs of living, respondents’ spending focused on necessities. Groceries were the leading expense for 51% of respondents, with another 13% spending primarily on gas. Meanwhile, only 5% of consumers are spending the most on discretionary expenses like vacations, electronics, and high-end retail items. Thirty-nine percent of respondents have also cut their discretionary budget in response to rising costs of living, and 27% have had to dip into their savings to keep up.
“As costs rise, people need a little more flexibility,” said Fred. “We heard from consumers that they are looking for more breathing room.”
As interest rates continue to rise, consumers are looking for low and no interest solutions for their credit cards. The vast majority of respondents (89%) said they would be interested in a credit card with no interest, and 42% ranked low or no fees as the feature they most valued in their card benefits, with cash back coming in second at 34%. Nearly half (48%) of respondents selected no interest as the credit card feature they were most interested in, with customizable rewards coming in second at 25% and increased payment flexibility coming in third at 17%.
More than 40% of respondents (42%) also had experienced a situation in the past that negatively impacted their credit. Of this group, the leading cause for negative credit impact was incurring credit card debt (44%)—which ranked even higher than losing a job or source of income (32%) as a negative credit experience.
Consumers can find 0% interest through introductory offers with new cards or balance transfer options, but there is now also an option to replace interest charges altogether with a simple, monthly fee.
83% of consumers know the range of their credit score, and almost 50% know their exact score. Additionally, 3 out of 4 consumers can correctly identify the recommended credit utilization rate, showing high levels of financial literacy around credit scores.
Consumers are passing this credit-savviness down to their children. Respondents with teenage children said 75% of them teach the importance of building credit to their teen, and 70% are beginning to help them establish this credit at a young age.
“Adding a teenager as an authorized user on a card is a great way to help them begin building a credit history early,” said Fred. “We’re seeing many parents start their teenaged kids on credit cards with low limits to start building healthy financial habits and a possible strong credit score young. Credit cards with lower limits and set payment structures, like TD Clear, can be a great option for a card to share with your kids.”
Rewards are a key factor for many when choosing a credit card, with more than 81% of respondents owning a rewards card and 31% of respondents are applying for cards specifically because of its rewards features. Of rewards cards, cash back cards are the most popular, with 63% of respondents saying they hold a cash back card. However, the survey found that consumers are not utilizing their rewards options to their full extent.
Most consumers (53%) use debit cards or cash as their primary spending method, meaning they miss out on optimizing spend-based rewards like cash back.
Even though two-thirds of consumers redeem their credit card rewards multiple times a year, 16% have admitted to letting their rewards expire. Of that 16%, more than 4 in 10 consumers say they let their rewards expire because they simply forgot to redeem their points.
This CARAVAN survey was conducted by Big Village among a sample of 1,005 U.S. adults ages 18+ that have a credit card. This survey was conducted from June 8-12.
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