Cherry Hill, N.J., March 10, 2022 – TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank® today released the results of its Consumer Spending Index, which found that consumers are shifting their spending back to experiences and in-person activities this year.
TD's annual survey polled more than 1,000 American credit card holders to gauge their spending habits and preferences. As consumers return to restaurants, retailers and entertainment venues, pent-up demand and factors including inflation may make consumers more prone to overspending this year.
Consumers are going out, but not cashing in
As communities eased restrictions over the past year, many people resumed spending on out-of-home activities. Dining out at restaurants landed among consumers' top expense categories, and the survey also found an uptick in spending on entertainment, fast food and coffee compared to last year.
“With consumers eager to spend on the activities they enjoy, our survey found that 41% use a debit card as their primary method of making day-to-day purchases – despite more than 80% owning a rewards credit card. This signals a missed opportunity to earn valuable rewards that can help with future purchases,” said Paramita Pal, Head of U.S. Bankcard at TD Bank. “Selecting a card that offers cash back and being disciplined about paying it off can put money back in consumers' pockets, which can be spent on a variety of purchases, from dining out to traveling or purchasing groceries.”
Looking ahead, more than a third of consumers (34%) say they are most looking forward to spending on travel in 2022, followed by home improvement (22%) and new technology (15%).
Old habits and new dynamics fuel overspending
The shift to pre-pandemic habits may also be driving consumers' inclination to overspend. The percentage of consumers who report overspending on dining out at restaurant and bars tripled compared to 2021 (30% vs. 10%). While consumers did not report overspending on entertainment purchases such as movies or concert tickets last year, 10% now say this is an area where they over-indulge.
Shopping remains the primary reason people overspend, with over half (54%) admitting to this. While most people are still more likely to go overboard when shopping online, consumers who attribute overspending to shopping in-person more than doubled from 12% in 2021 to 29% in 2022, with many citing getting distracted by other items in the store and the ability to have items immediately instead of waiting for shipping as the primary motivators.
Consumers may also be inadvertently spending more on routine expenses due to inflation. Groceries, the top spending category in TD's survey, experienced a price increase of 7.4% year-over-year in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"A variety of factors are hitting household budgets, so it's more important than ever for consumers to be vigilant about tracking their spending and using credit responsibly," said Pal. "And don't leave money on the table. Nearly a quarter of rewards cardholders surveyed said they have let their rewards expire, primarily because they forgot about them. Smart spenders take advantage of card programs that make redeeming cash or points easy, and don't have expiration dates for rewards."
In TD's survey, consumers reported spending an average of $320 on groceries each month. At this spending rate, a consumer would earn about $77 per year if they exclusively grocery shopped with a card offering 2% cash back on purchases – enough to cover a weekly trip to the grocery store.
Balancing the Buy Now, Pay Later boom
One way consumers are making purchases more manageable is by using Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solutions. According to the survey, almost a third of consumers (31%) have used BNPL to finance a purchase, including 45% of millennials. Of those who have used BNPL, nearly half (47%) say they use it more now than they did a year ago and a majority (81%) anticipate they will use BNPL in the next 12 months.
“Buy Now, Pay Later can be a useful tool for making big purchases more accessible and budget-friendly by allowing consumers to spread payments over weeks or months,” says Mike Rittler, General Manager, Retail Card Services, Personal Lending and Business Development at TD Bank. “But like any form of borrowing, it’s important that consumers fully understand the repayment terms and schedules, so they avoid building up debt, paying unnecessary interest and spending beyond their budget.”
Rates on the rise
Interest rates are a key consideration for some cardholders, with nearly a quarter (23%) saying a low interest rate is the credit card feature they value the most. It's expected that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this year, which would impact credit card holders who revolve a balance from month to month – 44% of cardholders in TD's survey.
"While rising interest rates have gotten a lot of attention, it's important that consumers understand the actual impact to their credit card bill," adds Pal. "For example, if the target interest rate increases by 25 basis points, a cardholder with a $5,000 balance who makes just their minimum monthly payment may only pay a couple additional dollars in interest each month. That said, we recommend consumers pay off their balance in full each month to avoid interest charges and any negative impacts to their credit score."
Consumers can find best practices for managing a credit card responsibly on TD's Financial Education Hub.
ENGINE surveyed 1,007 Americans 18 years of age and older who had at least one credit card. The online survey was conducted Feb. 2-6, 2022.
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About TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank®
TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 9.7 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at more than 1,100 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Bank and its subsidiaries offer customized private banking and wealth management services through TD Wealth®, and vehicle financing and dealer commercial services through TD Auto Finance. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J. To learn more, visit www.td.com/us. Find TD Bank on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TDBank and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TDBank_US and www.twitter.com/TDNews_US.
TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol "TD". To learn more, visit www.td.com/us.
Senior Corporate Communications Manager, U.S. Consumer Products