CardRatings Study Shows 33% with Lost Income Haven’t Changed Spending Habits
July 22, 2020

Less than half of respondents decreased their credit card activity

Foster City, CA – July 22, 2020 – Since the start of the pandemic, many have shifted how they manage money. A new survey finds those who lost jobs or income since the Coronavirus began now use credit cards differently, too.

The leader in credit card ratings shows people with reduced incomes could be turning to credit card rewards to cope with financial strain. In particular, those who lost income are redeeming rewards and increasing credit card spending during the pandemic. Those same respondents are paying more attention to maximizing rewards than they were in the past.  

The most popular way respondents are redeeming rewards within the past few months is with cash back, with nearly 80% choosing that option.

Additional survey findings:

  • Roughly half of respondents with a stable income since March 1 have kept their credit card spending habits unchanged
  • About 33% of those who lost income since the pandemic began spend the same as before
  • Slightly less than half of all respondents reveal decreased credit card spending
  • The proportion of consumers with increased spending is highest among people who lost income
  • Among all respondents who have opened a credit card, cash-back rewards cards are the most popular
  • Balance transfer and 0% intro APR cards are the next most popular options


The vast majority avoids opening new cards, but those who lost income are doing so more frequently.

“We don’t know exactly why people are opening new cards at a time when they have lost income, but it’s certainly possible that it is to help make ends meet,” explains Brooklyn Lowery, senior manager of and the study’s author. “This pandemic is revealing, perhaps more than ever, that many Americans are one or two paychecks away from not being able to pay their bills.”

CardRatings finds redeeming travel rewards is less appealing. At least half of respondents say they redeemed credit card rewards within the last three months. Survey results show people are also claiming cash back earlier than they typically have, redeeming travel rewards for cash back, and holding off on redeeming any rewards.

Methodology commissioned Op4G to conduct a national survey. The sample size was 800 people, with half reporting having lost income/jobs since March 1, and responses were collected June 23-30, 2020. The margins of error for all non multiple-choice questions ranged from 2.77%-3.46%.

Find the full report and survey results here: Lost income impacts how people redeem credit card rewards survey shows
Lowery is available for comment.

About is owned and operated by QuinStreet, Inc. (NASDAQ: QNST) a pioneer in delivering online marketplace solutions to match searchers with brands in digital media.  QuinStreet is committed to providing consumers and businesses with the information and tools they need to research, find and select the products and brands that meet their needs. is a member of the company’s expert research and publishing division. innovated online credit card ratings and has been offering independent ratings and reviews of credit card offers since 1998. The website collects and maintains data on more than 700 credit card offers and carefully compiles objective lists of the top credit cards by card type, making it easy for consumers to find the right card to fit their needs. 

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