Diversifying credit card use is a simple way to improve your credit score, provided you pay in a timely fashion. But whether out of habit or preference, a number of Americans stick with one card for purchase purposes more than any other, a newly released poll suggests.
Approximately 32 million consumers in the United States – or nearly 4 in 10 card holders – haven't changed their preferred credit card in 10 years or more, according to a recent survey conducted by CreditCards.com. Additionally, 21 million individuals have never used another credit card more than the one they use presently.
Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com senior industry analyst, indicated most credit card issuers offer points that can be used on a variety of purchases – points that people can cheat themselves out of if they're not careful.
"If you never change credit cards, you miss out on a big opportunity to rack up rewards," Schulz explained. "It's as simple as that."
He added that there's never been a better time to start using a different credit card – or, alternatively, apply for a new one – because issuers are offering great deals on points that consumers can use to their advantage.
Rewards top reason consumers use current card so often
It comes as somewhat of a surprise that almost 40 percent of credit card holders haven't applied for a new card in so long, as rewards are why they use their current one as often as they do, the poll revealed. More specifically, when respondents were asked the reason their preferred card was what it was, the top response was cash back benefits, ahead of other rationales like affordable interest rates or low fees.
Sign-up bonuses can be pretty rewarding as well. Schulz noted how issuers offer lots of extra points simply by applying.
"This is another reason to compare cards as soon as possible if it has been a while," Schulz said. "It normally takes a lot of spending to accumulate 50,000 points/miles, so accomplishing that with a single sign-up bonus is pretty incredible."
Responsible credit card use requires monitoring your spending habits and being cognizant about when payments are due. In a separate poll conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, almost 7 in 10 respondents noted credit card debt required most of their time and attention regarding finances.
Experts say that the most effective way to get out from under credit card debt – while at the same time balancing other expenses – is by consistently making slightly more than the minimum monthly payment until the amount owed is paid off in full.