Credit Card Debt and Gender Differences

by May 23, 2020Credit Card Debt0 comments

To quote from the 1996 film The Nutty Professor starring Eddie Murphy, “Women be shopping!” And that is a very common and accepted stereotype, the implication being that women shop nonstop or uncontrollably. But here is the thing; men shop too! So, I got to wondering, are there gender differences when it comes to the spending habits of men and women?

There have always been comparisons of the similarities and differences between men and women; from driving, to parenting, to employment, to spending habits, the list is long and varied. With the current credit crisis in America, I thought it would be interesting to delve into the differences in credit card usage between the sexes. So, I wondered, are there differences between men and women when it comes to credit card usage and debt? Who spends more, who carries more debt, and who takes longer to pay it off? This article plans to dive deep into all those questions and more.

Which sex holds more credit card debt?

In 2019, men held an average credit card debt amount of $7407.00 and women held an average credit card debt amount of $5245.00, about a 22% difference.

The short and sweet answer is as the chart above demonstratively depicts that men clearly, sorry guys, carry higher amounts of credit card debt overall than the ladies. So, I am assuming that this little tidbit of statistical information helps dispels that old line of thinking that women are constantly shopping. Obviously both genders like to shop!

Is credit card debt on the rise?

A survey in 2019 concluded that nearly 55% of all Americans of having at least one credit card and carry some amount of credit card debt. And as reported on the website, Americans, on average, have 3.7 credit cards and carry approximately $5600 of debt on them. And in actuality, according to a survey conducted by Experian, reported by Marketwatch, women hold more open credit cards, 3.7, than men, 3.

 Another story posted on stated that the American consumers’ combined credit card debt had hit an all-time high, totally $1 trillion dollars! But is credit card debt on the rise? Yes! Now let’s look at some of the figures.

As this graph shows, credit card debt is definitely on the rise. In 2013 the outstanding revolving debt was $825 billion building and it has steadily increased to over $1 trillion in 2018. Sadly, it is not showing any sign of slowing down or stopping.

Are there any gender differences in types of purchases?

Yes, there are some differences to the types of purchases that men and women make. According to the website Value Penguin, men tend to take out the plastic for larger, more expensive type purchases whereas women will charge smaller, more less expensive type items.

The folks over at Genysis Credit Union reported that there are some definite patterns of spending and the types of spending when it comes to sexes. For example, single men outspent women on food and alcohol. However, when it came to buy clothes, women outspent men. Men spend more on automobile costs than women; yet, women spend more on their pets.

When looking at the category of entertainment, men spent more than women on “audio and visual equipment and services” whereas women spent more than men on items that fall into the home entertainment category.

This idea that men tend to shop for more “heavy duty” items such as electronics or furniture, as compared to women who shopped for things like groceries and clothing was also cited by Optinmonster.

Are there any gender differences in credit card payment amounts, fees or charges?

According to a survey conducted by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulator Advisory), as reported on, 60% of the women surveyed were more like to carry debt on their open credit cards as opposed to just 55% of men. In addition to that, the survey found that 42% of women and 38% of men tended to make only the minimum payment required on their credit cards.

In addition, the survey revealed that women (29% and 16%) were more likely than men (23% and 15%) to be charged with fees associated with making a payment late or exceeding their spending limits, respectively. On a positive note, for the ladies at least, the survey found that men were more likely to use their credit cards for cash advances, 15% for men compared to 12% for women.

Finally, the survey found that men (45%) paid off their credit card balance each month in full, while only 39% of women did so. The survey also found that men (37%) tended to do more comparative shopping for credit cards than women (31%).

Who spends more time shopping online, men or women?

As seen on the website Adglow, between the ages of 25 to 49, men spend more time shopping online than women, 84.3% to 77% respectively. Two more interesting facts that came out of this study were that although men spend more time online shopping than women, women actually buy more often than men. However, the coin flips once again as men spend more per purchase than women. Now the statistics that I just reported need to be taken with a grain of salt as the survey was conducted in Europe. So, what about in the U.S.?

According to Optinmonster, 69% of the American population has shopped online! In conjunction with that, 25% shop online at least once a month. Now here is a reversal from the European study, in the United States, online shoppers are comprised primarily of women, 72% as compared to 68% for men.

Online shopping is not likely to disappear anytime soon. In fact, Optinmonster is forecasting that by 2023 91% of the U.S. population or 300 million people will be online shoppers! As that trend continues, only time will tell if the how men and women shop online will become more similar or will the gender gap continue to divide.