You're happy with your favorite credit card. You've used it for years and years. Why would you consider changing to a different one?
Card loyalty is a popular attitude in America, according to a new poll from CreditCards.com. Approximately 3 in 10 Americans – nearly 53 million consumers – have never changed their primary credit card. Another 16 million consumers haven't switched cards in the last ten years. Only one-third of cardholders have changed their most-used credit card in the last three years, and only 15% swapped out their most-used card within the past year.
Credit card loyalty is getting stronger. The previous year's poll found that nearly 49 million consumers (29% of Americans) never change their primary card – and only 20 million Americans reported never changing their card in the 2016 poll.
Why do consumers stick with their card? They like the benefits – especially when cash is involved.
According to 40% of respondents, rewards are the best benefit provided by their go-to card. Two-thirds of that group prefers cash rewards, although cash's popularity decreases with income.
While 74% of households with annual incomes below $40,000 prefer cash back rewards, only 60% of households with incomes over $80,000 prefer cash back. A cash back reward can have a larger percentage impact on a smaller budget.
You probably chose your primary card based on its rewards program. Almost one-quarter (24%) of survey respondents said the rewards program is what first drew them to their primary card, followed by the 14% who preferred the low-interest rate offer.
If cash back is the most popular reward, what's the least popular one? It's hotel points, favored by only 2% of respondents. Airline miles are slightly more popular, with a 5% rating. Card shoppers may think these rewards only benefit business travelers who have more opportunities to cash in such rewards – but hotel and airline rewards programs are becoming more flexible, allowing transfers between partner organizations.
Flexibility is key if you want to attract millennials. Within the younger portion of the millennial generation (ages 23 to 29), 23% prefer rewards that are flexible and transferrable. That's more than any other generation – although 58% of young millennials prefer the ultimate flexibility of cash.
Rewards programs have improved over the years – which is exactly why long-time cardholders should consider testing the waters. There may be far better rewards available, with sign-up bonuses as an extra temptation. Has your credit score and credit history improved since you got your primary credit card? If so, it's even more likely that you can find a better offer.Online resources can help you compare card features.
If you regularly carry a balance, shop for lower interest rates. You may benefit more from the lower rates than you would from better rewards.
Before you start looking for replacements for your primary credit card, review your credit score and credit report. Make sure there are no errors or issues with your report that could drag down your score and keep you from receiving the best offers. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by joining MoneyTips.
If you find some tempting offers but don't want to switch, let your card company know of the other offers and ask what they can do to retain your business. Card issuers value loyalty as well. They would much rather make you an offer than try to replace you as a customer, especially if you have a solid record of repayment.
If your current card issuer can't compete, you'll have already identified a solid alternative through your shopping efforts. Either way, you win.
If you want more credit, check out our list of credit card offers.