New Research Shows Strapped Middle Class Struggling With Credit

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
Updated: March 29th, 2017
The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.

For folks who struggle with money, being approved for a credit card has long proved a challenge. And now a new study shows that 72% of Americans with nonprime credit scores are unable to charge $500 to a credit card in case of emergency.

A subprime credit score, defined as a score of 700 or less, means consumers may have trouble being approved for a credit card at all. If they are able to open an account, they will likely have a low credit limit. They will also have a higher interest rate, not only on credit cards, but also on mortgages (if they can get them at all), car loans, and other types of personal loans.

This is even more concerning, since the survey also showed that 64% of people with poor credit aren’t able to borrow $500 from friends or family in the event that an urgent and unexpected expense comes up, either. Research from the Federal Reserve Board in 2016 revealed that 46% of Americans don’t have $400 saved in case of emergency.

The survey, which was conducted by Elevate’s Center for the New Middle Class, included responses from 600 Americans with subprime credit scores. Interviews were conducted in December 2015 and January 2016.

Other findings included:

• 71% of subprime borrowers could not borrow $2,000 from family or friends even if they urgently needed the money
• 80% of respondents could not charge $2,000 to a credit card in case of emergency
• 59% of those with limited credit usually carry a balance on their credit card
• 7% use overdraft protection to cover expenses they cannot afford
• Only one in five have borrowed money from friends or family in the last year

One way people with bad, or subprime, credit can get a credit card is to apply for a secured card. With this type of card, customers put down a deposit to act as collateral in case they default on their balance due. The amount of the deposit, which could be $500 or $5,000, then becomes the credit limit on their secured card.

A secured card allows cardholders to establish or rebuild a damaged credit score, because activity is reported to a major credit bureau, which then factors into the account holder’s credit score.

All rates and fees, and other terms and conditions of the products mentioned in this article/post are actual as of the last update date but are subject to change. See the current products' Terms & Conditions on the issuing banks' websites.

Latest Bad Credit Card News

Wednesday, December 27th, 2023

Credit cards allow you to pay for everyday or large purchases and have a small window to pay them off. All purchases made during the billing period of 28 to 31 days are added to your statement balance. After the end of each billing cycle, you receive a statement with your total balance owed and […]

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

If you have less than a perfect credit, a limited credit history, or recent derogatory marks on your credit report, you may have trouble applying for many of the credit card options currently available on the market. But there is another way to prove that you can handle credit responsibly: a secured credit card. Since […]

Monday, February 7th, 2022

On the threshold of the most romantic holiday, WalletHub published the results of the so-called Valentine’s Day Spending Survey. 1,000 men and women from across the U.S. participated in the poll. The questions concerned not only the expenses and expectations before February 14, but also how the financial situation may affect a relationship. The most […]

Sunday, June 28th, 2020

The numbers of co-branded credit cards have grown again. It seems that any more or less large company now strives to launch its own credit or at least debit card. Just remember the Apple Card. This time it’s Verizon’s turn. Starting today, June 26, its new Verizon Visa Card is officially released and available for […]

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

As a new online Bankrate survey of almost 2,5 thousand respondents shows, 84% of Americans face financial product denials. The bigger part of millennials (22-36 years old), namely 58%, was rejected for a credit card or another credit product at least once. The reason is their bad credit score.

Best Credit Offer
Surge® Platinum Mastercard®
Check off the cards you want to compare. Then click the Compare link to go to the comparison table.
Consumer Rating: 4 / 5
Horizon Card Services Group One Freedom Card
Copyright © 2001-2024 All Rights Reserved.

See the credit card's terms and conditions on the online application page. Note that this website may be compensated by credit card issuers when the visitor applies for a card through the links on this website. We do our best to maintain all information accurate and up to date. However, we do not warrant the credit card information won't change. Click the "Apply Online" button and review the current info on the secure credit card terms page.

Information in these articles is brought to you by Banks, issuers, and credit card companies mentioned in the articles do not endorse or guarantee, and are not responsible for, the contents of the articles.

The webpage is a free service and an information resource for credit cards and financial products and services available to eligible United States consumers. does not offer any warranties and is not a direct service. There are no guarantees for approval or offers when applying for a credit card. Please refer to the application if you would like more information on each credit card. When you click "Apply" for a particular credit card, please take the time to review the terms and conditions of the product/service at the issuer's website. All logos on the website are property of their respective owners.

Disclaimer: This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all info is presented without warranty. Consult a card's issuing bank for terms & conditions. makes every effort to keep information up to date and accurate. However, the information regularly changes and is presented without warranty. Therefore, we strongly recommend all our readers to visit the credit card application page by clicking "Apply Online!" button to review the detailed credit card's terms and conditions. Note that may be compensated by the credit card issuers when the readers apply for a credit card through this site. is an independent, advertising-supported website which receives compensation from the credit card issuers and companies whose offers appear on the site. Compensation may impact how and where products appear on our site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear on the site pages. does not review or list all available financial or credit offers.

You've successfully subscribed!

Please specify the following:All these fields are optional

Thank you for providing this information! We will make sure our letters are useful for You.

User Generated Content Disclaimer: These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.