Here’s a Breakdown of Americans’ Monthly Credit Card Bills


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What have Americans spent with their credit cards this past year?


Key points

  • The pandemic changed how Americans spend, with 80% of Americans planning to continue with at least one of their budget changes post-pandemic.
  • 51% of Americans plan to save extra money and 30% plan to pay off their debt more quickly.
  • Americans have increased their spending for travel and restaurants, reaching pre-pandemic levels.

Before March 2020, 27% of the average American’s credit card spending was for travel and restaurants, according to Personal Capital’s post-pandemic spending report. After the COVID-19 hit, the number dropped to 15% for the remainder of 2020. The pandemic changed many Americans’ spending habits in other ways, too. Here is a breakdown of credit card spending post-pandemic.

Post-pandemic budget changes

As the world has reopened post-pandemic, 80% of Americans plan to continue with at least one budget change they made during the pandemic. These changes include:

  • Eating out less (49%)
  • Buying fewer clothes and shoes (41%)
  • Traveling less (37%)
  • Going to the salon less frequently (30%)

In Personal Capital’s survey, they found that 51% of Americans plan to move extra money built up from spending less during the pandemic into their savings accounts. Additionally, 30% intend to use it to pay off debt, 16% plan to put it in their retirement savings, and another 16% plan to invest it.

Credit card spending by category

Personal Capital tracked the monthly credit card spending of people who had an average net worth of $1.3 million and a median net worth of $405,000. This is higher than the average net worth of the US population, so the monthly spending amounts may be higher than the general population. The spending data is from November 2020 to October 2021.

Category

Monthly Spend

% of Monthly Spend

Travel

$822

16.9%

General Merchandise

$815

16.7%

Restaurants

$567

11.6%

Groceries

$562

11.5%

Clothing/Shoes

$522

10.7%

Home Improvement

$519

10.7%

Healthcare

$358

7.4%

Online Services

$331

6.8%

Entertainment

$210

4.3%

Gas

$168

3.4%

Total

$4,874

100.0%

Source: visualcapitalist.com

Since the world has opened back up, Americans have increased their spending for travel and restaurants, reaching pre-pandemic levels. The survey found that the most popular merchant for travel was Airbnb, followed by Delta and United Airlines. Eating out at restaurants and eating at home were virtually the same, as Americans began to eat out more in 2021.

General merchandise, including purchases at stores and online retailers like Amazon, Costco, and Walmart, came in as the second-highest credit card expense. Entertainment expenses accounted for only 4.3% of spending. This consists of digital entertainment such as Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify, along with ticket purchases from merchants such as Ticketmaster.

Gas was the last expense, making up 3.4% of credit card expenses. However, since the survey data was collected, gas prices are up more than 60%. The average American is spending $181 a month more on gas (roughly $2,172 a year). This equates to more than a month’s worth of housing costs for the average American.

Budgeting is the first step to track how you are spending your money. As inflation rears its ugly head, reducing spending in some categories can help offset the increase in prices. Personal Capital found that 69% of millennials have saved more than $100 per month and 20% have saved $500 or more during the pandemic. Investing that money can help you grow your savings and achieve financial independence.

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