Born On The 4th Of July

Just How Financially Independent Are American Feeling?

109 million Americans report more financial freedom this year than last

New research from wallethub.com, the personal finance website for consumers. Visit wallethub.com

With Independence Day right around the corner, the personal-finance website WalletHub wanted to get a sense of just how free Americans are feeling, financially. So WalletHub conducted a nationally representative Fourth of July Credit Card Survey. You can find highlights from the survey below, along with a Q&A with WalletHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou.

Fireworks and freedom… that’s what America does on the Fourth of July to celebrate the country’s birthday, established with 56 founding fathers’ pen strokes on the Declaration of Independence in 1776. We also eat a whole lot of hotdogs: 150 million in total. We make a toast or two to freedom and good old Uncle Sam, shelling out more than $1.6 billion on July Fourth beer and wine. And we travel, with nearly 47 million of us planning to venture 50+ miles from home this year.

But even though July 4, 2019 marks America’s 244th birthday, there’s still a lot to learn about this red, white and blue anniversary. To help fill you in and pump up your patriotism, we put together an awesome infographic filled with 4th of July fun facts. We also polled a panel of experts for some added insight into Independence Day.

July 4th survey statistics:

  • 207 million people think the government should cap credit card rates, yet 57% of them think the government shouldn’t restrict their ability to get a loan if the government says the interest rate is too high.
  • Almost half (41%) of Americans trust their credit card company more than the Trump administration, Congress and the media.
  • 42% of Americans are prouder of their credit score than their country. The national average credit score is 676.
  • More people would rather declare independence from social media (21%) than bad credit (13%).
  • 52% of Americans think the government tracks our credit card spending.

Q&A with WalletHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou:

It’s important to have clarity on where you are now and a plan for getting where you want to be, and a lot of us have neither...

Would capping credit card interest rates increase our financial freedom?
It’s obviously best to avoid paying high credit card interest rates whenever possible. But if the government were to arbitrarily decide rates are too high and credit card companies can charge no more than a certain legislatively determined amount, that would simply create a credit crunch for people on the fringe of approvability, resulting in people ultimately paying more in terms of lost opportunities. Relatively high rates are a big reason why credit card companies are able to lend to many consumers. And if you can’t get the money to pay for emergency car repairs needed to get to work, for example, where does that leave you?

What is the key to achieving financial freedom?
Simply giving some serious thought to your financial goals, obligations and current shortcomings is a great first step toward achieving financial freedom. It’s important to have clarity on where you are now and a plan for getting where you want to be, and a lot of us have neither. In particular, people should be focused on paying off unnecessary debt and building up cash reserves. We’re in for a recession at some point, and while the current economic recovery has left some people behind, things will undoubtedly get worse.

Should people be worried about credit card fraud over the Fourth of July holiday period?
Fraudulent credit card purchases are always a possibility given the prevalence of data breaches and identity theft. However, devices called skimmers that copy credit card information when a card is inserted into a payment terminal do seem to be especially common at gas stations around major driving holidays such as the Fourth of July. But what people should remember is that all credit cards have $0 liability guarantees for unauthorized transactions. So as long as you review your recent credit card transactions and report anything suspicious, you shouldn’t be out any money.