For the first time ever, MoneySuperMarket has analysed more than two million ‘soft search’ enquiries to identify the type of credit cards Brits tend to search for.
They have grouped more than 100 credit cards into four categories that broadly represent how they are typically used: Paying Off Debt, Borrowing, Credit Building, and Spending.
And while Scotland appears to be a nation more preoccupied with paying off their debt (with South Lanarkshire the highest in the whole of the UK), residents in Fife are typically aiming to build up a credit history.
The likes of West Dunbartonshire and Dundee City also feature in the top 10 for building credit history, as they come in with 58% more enquiries compared to the UK average. North Ayrshire and Renfrewshire round off the top 10 with 50% and 47% respectively.
The MoneySuperMarket report revealed that credit cards designed to help with debt were the most popular type of card overall, accounting for three in ten (28 per cent) enquiries in 2016. A quarter (25 per cent) were for borrowing cards while a fifth (20 per cent) were for credit building and seven per cent for spending.
The most popular time of the week to search for credit cards is 8.15pm on a Monday evening, and enquiries peaked on January 22 (2016) when 85 per cent more people assessed their eligibility online than a typical day. Overseas cards are the only exception, when enquiries peaked on July 6.
Cards for paying off debt
Enquiries for cards to help manage debt were highest in South Lanarkshire2, where 8.1 per 1,000 consumers were looking for cards of this type – 37 per cent higher than the national average. Those checking their eligibility for cards designed to help with debt typically earn £27,456 and are aged 38.
Borrowing cards are favoured by younger consumers, with the highest rate of enquiries amongst those aged 19. Enquiries from Copeland in the North West of England were 50 per cent higher than in the rest of the country with a rate of 7.8 per 1,000. Rochford (7.5 per 1,000), Dartford (7.1 per 1,000) and Crawley (7.1 per 1,000) also featured in the top ten hotspots.
Cards for building credit
Blackpool is Britain’s credit building hotspot, with the highest rate of enquiries for cards to build credit history (seven per 1,000) at 73 per cent above the national average. Northerners check their eligibility for credit building more frequently (20 per cent) than those in the South, so it’s no surprise five of the top ten local authorities which favour credit building cards are in the North West. A further four are in Scotland, while Corby in the East Midlands also features.
Those aged 18-24 are the most credit conscious, accounting for a quarter (25 per cent) of all enquiries. For every £5,000 less a person earns each year, the popularity of credit building cards increases by five per cent. Consumers earning less than £15,000 a year are 45 per cent more likely to try and build their credit rating than every other income bracket, accounting for 46 per cent of all enquiries about cards of this nature.
London had the highest rate of enquiries for spending cards, with nine of the top ten hotspots in the capital. The local authority area, City of London, came in at the top of the table, with 5.9 per 1,000 customers from the area enquiring about this type of card. Those in the North East were least likely to enquire about a spending card.
Two thirds (60 per cent) of customers checking their eligibility for spending cards were men and the average age was 39 - six years older than those typically looking to build credit. Higher earners were also most likely to look at spending cards, as the average salary for people enquiring about this type of card was £34,446 (£47,017 in London). Someone who earned more than £40,000 is 2.7 times more likely to enquire about a spending card than someone who earned less.