financial services

Study: Credit Cards Out, Prepaid Cards, Cash In

credit card

People are ditching credit cards for debit, gift and prepaid cards, according to a new study by Javelin Strategy & Research. The study says the pain of the recession has produced a risk-averse, cash-hoarding "cautious consumer" and that more consumers are paying cash instead of incurring future debt with plastic.

The report, "Payment Card Issuer Strategies 2010," finds that consumer credit-card use is at an all-time low because of alternatives like "reloadable" prepaid cards. Credit card use has decreased 31% between 2007 and 2009 (from above 85% to 56% in 2009), and if the trend continues, credit card use will fall below 50% by year's end.

Even among those 11% who say they have improved their ability to salt away money, the study says 46% are also using their credit cards less often and 51% have decreased their spending on discretionary goods, such as entertainment, travel, luxury items and cars.



Per the firm, California and Texas -- which represent 20% of the U.S. population -- have seen major credit card use declines with the collapse of the housing market and rising unemployment rates. The study says when consumers do choose a credit card, the focus is first on saving money. Among respondents, the most highly-ranked offering is "no annual fee," named as the top reason for choosing a card by 80% of respondents. That is followed by low interest rates and then rewards.

"The recent passage of widespread financial reform targeting payment cards is not just impacting the way consumers behave, but is transforming the entire payments landscape," says Beth Robertson, director of payments research, Javelin Strategy & Research, in the study. She says that in addition to rethinking their debit and credit card portfolios and prepaid business, the financial-services industry should "innovate, finding new payment options or structural alternatives that will drive revenue."

The survey is from a random sample of 5,211 people surveyed in March, and from surveys last November.

2 comments about "Study: Credit Cards Out, Prepaid Cards, Cash In ".
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  1. Patrice Peyret from Plastyc, Inc., September 11, 2010 at 6:11 p.m.

    There is indeed plenty of room for innovations around prepaid cards to make them a viable alternative to checking accounts and credit cards, for consumers who want to manage their money with no risk of overdraft fees and no further debt.

    However, the true innovators in prepaid cards are few and far between. My own company Plastyc got quite a lot of press when it introduced the ability for UPside Visa Prepaid cardholders to send a paper check to their landlord to pay rent out of their card balance. Same when prepaid Visa cardholders were offered the ability to add minutes to their prepaid cell phones right from within their card accounts without having to go and buy a refill pack or scratch card at the wireless store.
    We got the press interested because, frankly, there are not very many other service creations going on in the industry. The vast bulk of prepaid cards are the same today as they were 3 years ago: load money, spend, and not much else besides perhaps getting SMS alerts on low balances.

    Plenty of opportunities await the creatives and the bold in the industry!

  2. Amit Sharna from Emotion Associates, September 15, 2010 at 11:11 a.m.

    I think it is far too early to say that Prepaid Cards are in and credit cards are out as the fundamental difference remains that Prepaid is a "pay before" product and credit a "pay after".

    I think the sample size needs to be much greater feel and whilst we have seen the take up prepaid credit cards rise through one of our group companies at Prepaid365, it is still far to early to make a definitive judgement on where the market stands because the current market is driven by caution and recession and not necessarily by product features and usage.

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