The Richest Americans Use This Type of Credit Card

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  • Folks with a net worth over $1 million are most likely to have a cash back card, with 59% saying they currently use one.
  • Folks with lower net worths have more cash back cards, as 72% have at least one; however, millionaires are more than twice as likely to have a travel rewards card.
  • All in all, millionaires are simply likely to have more cards altogether, with many reporting having two, three, or more.

The only supercar I can charge says "Hot Wheels" on the side...

It's in every movie about affluence: That scene where the rich person plonks down their no-limit Black card and charges a yacht, or a supercar, or an entire hotel because they want to fire that one guy who looked at them funny.

But is every person with a bit of money in the bank really walking around with invite-only, $5,000-annual-fee credit cards? Sorry to break the illusion, but no, they're definitely not.

In fact, according to our recent study on credit card habits of the wealthy, most rich folks are using the same cards we are -- they just have much bigger balances.

Everyone loves a cash back card

When asked about their credit card preferences, respondents with a net worth over $1 million were most likely to have a cash back card, with 59% saying they currently owned at least one.

That makes them the same as everyone else, since cash back was the favorite for respondents with lower net worths as well. Moreover, folks with net worths below $1 million are actually more likely to have a cash back card, with 72% of respondents saying they currently have one.

The popularity of cash back cards is no surprise. Cash back rewards are simpler to earn and redeem than other types of rewards. You don't need to spend any time worrying about how to maximize your redemption or where to transfer your points. Some cards even let you redeem cash back automatically as you go.

Mo' money, mo' travel rewards

Perhaps more interesting is the number of wealthy people with travel rewards cards; nearly half (49%) said they have a travel rewards card. In comparison, less than a quarter (23%) of respondents with a lower net worth said they had at least one travel rewards card.

This makes a certain amount of sense, when you think about it. People in this wealth bracket are more likely to be older, more established in their careers, with more money and time to travel. (Plus, travel cards aren't cheap. Most of the top travel rewards cards have an annual fee, and the premium cards start around $500 a year.)

That said, travel rewards weren't the only cards that the wealthy were more likely to have than folks with lower net worths. Besides cash back cards, wealthy respondents were more likely to have every other type of credit card. This includes student cards and store cards. Oddly enough, they were even more likely to have a secured credit card than folks with lower net worths, at 27% versus 19%.

Wealthy are more likely to have multiple cards

Overall, it all seems to come down to volume. Millionaires are simply more likely to have more cards. Only 9% of millionaires said they didn't own a credit card at all, compared to nearly a quarter -- 24% -- of everyone else.

While more than a third (36%) of people with a net worth less than $1 million had a one-card wallet, only 22% of millionaires stopped at one card. Most of them, in fact, had two or more cards, with 37% having two cards and 21% stopping at three.

As for credit card collectors -- folks with four or more cards -- they're more likely to have a high net worth, but they're still not a big portion of the overall picture. Just 7% of folks with a lower net worth have four or more cards, while only 12% of folks with a net worth over $1 million had such large collections.

Interest is universal

While there may be a lot we can learn from the wealthy on how to save and invest, there are some lessons that may not be so great. Like paying off our credit cards.

Unfortunately, while millionaires are more likely to have multiple cards, they're not always using them as wisely as they should. It turns out only a third of wealthy respondents are paying their statement balance in full each month. This means there are a lot of millionaires out there who are stuck paying high interest fees on their credit cards.

I suppose this goes to show you that some things really are universal.

Our Research Expert

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