Consumers Pissed Off at Credit Card Companies. One-Third Don’t Even Have a Credit Card.

Credit card holders are angry. More than a one-third (32%) have paid off and closed a card since January 2008, and half of those that canceled did so in direct response to the actions of credit-card issuers, such as cutting limits, hiking rates, or imposing fees, according to a national poll by Consumer Reports.

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Twenty-one percent of respondents said they were treated unfairly by card companies, and only 41 percent said they were highly satisfied with their card issuer, making credit cards one of the lowest-rated services that Consumer Reports covers.

The level of public anger about card issuers shows in the results of Consumer Reports nationally representative survey of 1,211 credit card users, conducted in July, as well as in scores of irate letters and e-mails Consumer Reports has received from readers.

The survey also found that 45 percent of respondents say they are charging less, 43 percent say they are spending about the same, and 11 percent are charging more than they did a year ago.

The surveys found that one-third of Americans say they don’t own a credit card. Of those Americans who use them, here’s how much money they owe:

  • 54% pay their balances in full each month
  • 13% carry balances over $10,000 (Median $17,366)
  • 33% carry balances up to $10,000 (Median $2,554)

Consumer Reports survey showed credit-card users tended to fall into three camps. One group is made up of consumers who generally pay their bills on time but use cards for convenience or to rack up rewards. Then there are those who reported moderate balances and reasonable prospects of eventually paying off that debt. The third group includes consumers with debts totaling $10,000 or more, often from spending for emergencies; 44 percent of that group said they wouldn’t be able to survive financially over the next six months without relying on their credit cards to meet monthly expenses.

Depending on which camp your credit needs fall into, Consumer Reports’ November report offers a complete strategy guide to dealing with credit-card issues, finding the right cards for your needs, and protecting your credit score. The report is available at www.ConsumerReports.org or in the November issue.

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