Consumer Payments Research Center

Contributing to informed public policy for payment systems

The Consumer Payments Research Center conducts survey, econometric, and theoretical research to contribute to public policy that maximizes the welfare of all members of the economy.

2011-2012 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice

Consumer Revolving Credit and Debt over the Life Cycle and Business Cycle
Using a 5 percent sample of every credit account in the United States from 1999 to 2014, an examination of U.S. consumers' patterns of incurring, carrying, and paying off their debts.

image of a spedometer2013 Survey Research & Data Available Now
Research report and complete dataset available for download.

Payment Choice by Consumers' Demographic CharacteristicsPayment Choice by Consumers' Demographic Characteristics
Behavior is correlated with almost all socio-demographic attributes.
research definition Economic Research
Bibliography of papers using Boston Fed consumer payments data.


Available credit drives consumer debt

April 2016. Separating convenience users (those who pay off their credit card debt every month) from revolvers (those who carry a balance from month to month): For revolvers a 10 percent increase in credit limit is followed by a 1.3 percent increase in debt within one quarter, and a 9.99 percent increase in debt over the long term.

42 percent of credit card holders carried an unpaid balance at least once in the 12 months ended October 2013, according to the 2013 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice.

Read full research paper, "Consumer Revolving Credit and Debt over the Life Cycle and Business Cycle."

Unbanked consumers more likely to own GPR prepaid cards

March 2016. Holding income and demographic factors constant, U.S. consumers without checking accounts (those who are "unbanked") are significantly more likely to own a GPR card than consumers with checking accounts (those who are "banked"). In addition, among GPR card holders a larger fraction of unbanked consumers than banked consumers receive their income directly to their GPR card.

Owners of general purpose reloadable prepaid cards (GPR) who do not have checking accounts comprise 4.8 percent of U.S. adults, according to the 2012 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice.

Read full report, How Are U.S. Consumers Using General Purpose Reloadable Prepaid Cards?

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