Chart du Jour: Credit Cards by Country

Chart of the day is a nice one from Foreign Policy comparing the number of credit cards per person, per country around the world:



  1. Credit cards per person? Seriously? Would it be any less dramatic-looking if it showed comparisons with countries that were a little more similar to the US?
    I have difficulty finding much relevance in the financial situation of the general population in downtrodden places like Russia and China. India? I know an Indian IT guy whose family still lives in a hut with a dirt floor. In ’98 I worked with a Russian who used to live in a Moscow apartment with 17 other people. In ’96 I had two Chinese employees whose parents had never been inside an automobile. Where is the relevance?
    Brazil should probably be on the far end of this spectrum, but then it would probably not make a very dramatic display.

  2. How is this number arrived at? Because personally, I own two credit cards, but one is corporate and the other is personal. So, if you count business executives, your numbers start looking skewed. This is especially bad for folks like me (consultants) when you can have more than one corporate card.
    Not that I disagree with the sentiment that the American penchant for credit isn’t a necessarily good thing.

  3. Might be interesting to take the next step.
    What are the number of credit card offers (per month) per person by country?
    We might find a curious correlation.

  4. @ Karthik, I don’t think that businesspeople overy skew the results, when you consider that on the home front, American (and Canadian!) consumers with a debt problem often have a Visa, MC AND Amex, and then a superfluity of store cards like Sears, Best Buy, Home Depot, Victoria’s Secret, and so on, that number looks about right. What’s sobering is to consider how many consumers are underwater on their cards, and only making minimum payments, if that.

  5. Lee,
    I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you about the number of credit cards that a lot of people have. But simply that assuming 1/3 of Americans are employed (1/3 being too old and 1/3 being too young), and that 1/20th of these people are employed in positions where they would be issued corporate cards, the figure you arrive at is 5 million.
    Depending upon the target demographic of the sample, that is not an insignificant number (especially since you’d think that earning members of the community are the ones who’d be eligible for credit cards). If this number is greater than the error variance, it could significantly skew the results.
    My two cents.