Nearly 6 in 10 credit cardholders say they are better off financially today than they expected to be when the pandemic began, according to a new report from CompareCards, although there were stark differences between responses from men and women.

Key findings

  • Better off than expected: 57% of credit cardholders agreed that they are better off now financially than they expected to be when the pandemic began. Just 16% disagreed.
  • All about the jobs: The two biggest reasons given for being better off than expected were, “I was worried I’d lose my job, but I didn’t” (30%), and “I was furloughed but I’ve since been brought back to work” (19%).
  • Disappointed in government response: The most common reason given for saying things were not better than expected was, “I expected more help from the government” (27%). Second: “I lost my job and haven’t gotten a new one” (21%).
  • Wide gender gap: Nearly 3 in 4 men agreed that they were better off financially than they expected to be compared with just 4 in 10 women.
  • Political party differences: Republicans were the most likely to agree they are better off financially, while Independents were the least, by a significant margin.
  • Massive differences by age group: Generation Xers were by far, the most likely to agree that they are better off today than they expected to be when the pandemic began.

Better Than Expected for Most Americans

  • Cardholders were just over three-and-a-half times more likely to agree that their financial situation was better off than expected than they were to disagree (57% to 16%).
  • That 57% number includes 33% who said they strongly agreed with the statement. Conversely, just 6% strongly disagreed with the statement.

Jobs and Government Response Drove Cardholder Opinion

In the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, it quickly became clear that the pandemic wasn’t just a health crisis, but an economic crisis as well, according to a CompareCards news release.

  • Of the top five reasons given for feeling better off, the top two revolved around jobs, while two others were about getting financial assistance, either from the government or a friend or relative. Just one concerning health.
  • On the flip side, government assistance (or more specifically, the lack thereof) was the primary reason for saying they didn’t feel they were better off, followed by losing a job and failing to get another one.
  • 18% of those who said they weren’t better off chose “other reason” when asked why and then wrote in their own reason. The most common reasons included reduced hours and loss of income.

Huge Differences in Opinion by Age, Party and Especially Gender

In today’s highly polarized America, it’s expected to see stark divides among different groups. This survey didn’t disappoint, the news release added.

  • 72% of men agreed they are better than they expected vs. just 40% of women.
  • 48% of men “strongly agree” they are better off than they expected. Just 15% of women said the same.
  • The biggest reason for women saying they’re better off? Economic impact payments allowing them to pay off debt. Twenty-eight percent of women said so vs. 14% of men.
  • Generation X was far more likely than any other age group to agree that they were better off than they expected to be, as were those with higher incomes.
  • Seven in 10 Republicans (70%) agreed, while just 40% of Independents said the same, though the sample size of that group was smaller than that of the two main parties.

The Bottom-line

This data clearly reveals that most Americans actually feel better about their finances than they expected to when the pandemic began. What is also clear is that the good feelings are not equally spread among all Americans, the news release said.

Some disparity in opinion among demographic groups is to be expected, the news released said. No one expects Republicans and Democrats to agree on much of anything. Generation gaps have existed since the dawn of time, as have differing opinions between the wealthy and the poor and, of course, between the sexes.

“Despite the disparities, the big takeaway is that most Americans do feel better about their finances than they expected to back when the pandemic took hold,” said Matt Schulz, Chief Credit Analyst at LendingTree in the news release. “That is something to applaud. We just can’t forget that there’s plenty of work to be done to ensure that the economic good feelings are felt more widely across more diverse groups.”

To view the full report and for more information, visit here.

Source: CompareCards