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Consuming Interests

Are men better with credit cards than women in Maryland?

Alas, sisters, a study by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation finds that men are better users of credit cards.

The survey, which polled about 500 people in each state and D.C., found that Maryland men are less likely to carry a balance, pay only the minimum or owe late or over-the-limit fees than women here.

For example, 55 percent of women polled in the state carried a balance on their cards, compared with 47 percent of men. Thirty-four percent of men paid the minimum due; compared with 41 percent of women.

Men (35 percent) were more likely than women (30 percent) to comparison shop for credit cards.

However, Maryland men, at 14 percent, were slightly more likely to take out a cash advance than women, at 11 percent.

On a national level, the group found that the interest rate women paid on credit cards was about a half-percentage point higher than what men paid.

Consumers with higher levels of financial literacy received lower interest rates than those who were less savvy. Even so, in both cases women still paid higher rates than men.

Women with low financial skills paid an average rate of 15 percent, compared with their male counterparts that paid an average of 14.5 percent. Women with high financial literacy paid an average rate of 14.7 percent, compared with 14.1 percent paid by their male peers.

“Although the half percentage point spread in credit card interest rates between men and women is not a marked difference, over the course of a lifetime a female consumer would pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more in borrowing costs relative to a male with the same demographic characteristics,” the study said.

This is doubly bad news, especially in light of a recent article by my colleagues Lorraine Mirabella and Yvonne Wenger. They reported that Maryland woman on average earns 83 cents for every $1 a man makes here. Women have less money to waste.

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