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Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo see Q2 card volume outpace pre-pandemic levels

Data dump: Major issuers reported card spending recovery in Q2—a turning point in the fight against the pandemic.

  • Bank of America: In Q2, combined credit and debit card volume swung up 40% year over year (YoY), a marked improvement from Q2 2020, when the first wave of the pandemic rattled the economy and volume dropped 11% YoY. The metric also rose 30% compared with Q2 2019 (Yo2Y)—reflecting a strong return to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Citi: In Q2, volume on North American branded cards jumped 40% YoY (+12% Yo2Y). Volume saw dramatic growth compared with the same period last year, when it plunged 21% YoY.
  • JPMorgan Chase: Credit card sales volume exploded 51% YoY in Q2 (+16% Yo2Y). Recent growth reflects a vast improvement from last year, when the pandemic pushed consumers to limit credit card use: In Q2 2020, credit card volume declined 23% YoY.
  • Wells Fargo: Credit card point-of-sale (POS) volume surged nearly 46% YoY (+25% Yo2Y) in Q2—way up from the same period last year, when it sank 23%.

How we got here: In June, US unemployment stood at 5.9%—down from April 2020’s 14.8% peak but still well above the 3.5% seen before the pandemic. Getting consumers back to work improved their financial well-being and willingness to spend on cards. This is reflected in data from PSCU, a national credit union payments organization: In June, spending on credit cards grew 32% YoY and 26% Yo2Y.

State reopenings and easing pandemic restrictions also let consumers do things outside their homes, opening up increased spending opportunities: Credit card spending on entertainment exploded 197% YoY and ticked up 2% Yo2Y in May, per PSCU.

What’s next? To maximize growth, issuers will likely launch card products that cater to consumer trends—like flexible rewards, as Citi did with its Custom Cash Card. Others may also dip back into travel and entertainment rewards, considering consumers’ eagerness to travel—78% of global consumers want to travel in 2021, per an American Express survey.

More issuers may also explore initiatives to expand credit access as consumers regain their appetite for credit cards. JPMorgan and Wells Fargo recently joined a government-backed plan in which issuers share customers’ account deposit data to determine consumer creditworthiness without using credit scores—expanding the pool of eligible cardholders.