IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/fip/fedhwp/wp-06-11.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Do consumers choose the right credit contracts?

Author

Listed:
  • Sumit Agarwal
  • Souphala Chomsisengphet
  • Chunlin Liu
  • Nicholas S. Souleles

Abstract

A number of studies have pointed to various mistakes that consumers might make in their consumption-saving and financial decisions. We utilize a unique market experiment conducted by a large U.S. bank to assess how systematic and costly such mistakes are in practice. The bank offered consumers a choice between two credit card contracts, one with an annual fee but a lower interest rate and one with no annual fee but a higher interest rate. To minimize their total interest costs net of the fee, consumers expecting to borrow a sufficiently large amount should choose the contract with the fee, and vice-versa. ; We find that on average consumers chose the contract that ex post minimized their net costs. A substantial fraction of consumers (about 40%) still chose the ex post sub-optimal contract, with some incurring hundreds of dollars of avoidable interest costs. Nonetheless, the probability of choosing the sub-optimal contract declines with the dollar magnitude of the potential error, and consumers with larger errors were more likely to subsequently switch to the optimal contract. Thus most of the errors appear not to have been very costly, with the exception that a small minority of consumers persists in holding substantially sub- optimal contracts without switching.

Suggested Citation

  • Sumit Agarwal & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Chunlin Liu & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2006. "Do consumers choose the right credit contracts?," Working Paper Series WP-06-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-06-11
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.chicagofed.org/digital_assets/publications/working_papers/2006/wp2006_11.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Joel Waldfogel, 2005. "Does Consumer Irrationality Trump Consumer Sovereignty?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(4), pages 691-696, November.
    2. Michael Manove & A. Jorge Padilla, 1999. "Banking (Conservatively) with Optimists," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 324-350, Summer.
    3. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen, 1985. "A Near-Rational Model of the Business Cycle, with Wage and Price Inertia," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(Supplemen), pages 823-838.
    4. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2004. "Contract Design and Self-Control: Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 353-402.
    5. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2002. "Do Liquidity Constraints and Interest Rates Matter for Consumer Behavior? Evidence from Credit Card Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 149-185.
    6. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Choice and Procrastination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 121-160.
    7. David B. Gross, 2002. "An Empirical Analysis of Personal Bankruptcy and Delinquency," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(1), pages 319-347, March.
    8. Carol C. Bertaut & Michael Haliassos, 2001. "Debt Revolvers for Self Control," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 0208, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
    9. Malmendier, Ulrike M. & Della Vigna, Stefano, 2002. "Overestimating Self-Control: Evidence from the Health Club Industry," Research Papers 1880, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    10. Musto, David K. & Souleles, Nicholas S., 2006. "A portfolio view of consumer credit," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 59-84, January.
    11. Calem, Paul S & Mester, Loretta J, 1995. "Consumer Behavior and the Stickiness of Credit-Card Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1327-1336, December.
    12. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2018. "Shrouded attributes, consumer myopia and information suppression in competitive markets," Chapters,in: Handbook of Behavioral Industrial Organization, chapter 3, pages 40-74 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    13. Shefrin, Hersh M & Thaler, Richard H, 1988. "The Behavioral Life-Cycle Hypothesis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 609-643, October.
    14. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1775-1798, October.
    15. Peter S. Yoo, 1998. "Still charging: the growth of credit card debt between 1992 and 1995," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 19-27.
    16. John Heaton & Deborah Lucas, 2000. "Portfolio Choice and Asset Prices: The Importance of Entrepreneurial Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(3), pages 1163-1198, June.
    17. Andreas Lehnert & Dean M. Maki, 2002. "Consumption, debt and portfolio choice: testing the effect of bankruptcy law," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-14, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    18. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000. "A Debt Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 7879, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Eugenio J. Miravete, 2003. "Choosing the Wrong Calling Plan? Ignorance and Learning," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 297-310, March.
    20. Calem, Paul S. & Gordy, Michael B. & Mester, Loretta J., 2006. "Switching costs and adverse selection in the market for credit cards: New evidence," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1653-1685, June.
    21. Ausubel, Lawrence M, 1991. "The Failure of Competition in the Credit Card Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 50-81, March.
    22. Souleles, Nicholas S, 2004. "Expectations, Heterogeneous Forecast Errors, and Consumption: Micro Evidence from the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Surveys," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(1), pages 39-72, February.
    23. George-Marios Angeletos, 2001. "The Hyberbolic Consumption Model: Calibration, Simulation, and Empirical Evaluation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 47-68, Summer.
    24. Ian Domowitz & Robert L. Sartain, 1999. "Determinants of the Consumer Bankruptcy Decision," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(1), pages 403-420, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Almenberg, Johan & Karapetyan, Artashes, 2009. "Mental Accounting in the Housing Market," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 718, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 28 Aug 2010.
    2. Malin, Benjamin A., 2008. "Hyperbolic discounting and uniform savings floors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 1986-2002, October.
    3. Sumit Agarwal & John C Driscoll & Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2008. "Learning in the Credit Card Market," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002028, David K. Levine.
    4. Morgan, Donald P., 2007. "Defining and detecting predatory lending," Staff Reports 273, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    5. Scott Schuh & Joanna Stavins, 2008. "Summary of the workshop on Consumer Behavior and Payment Choice," Public Policy Discussion Paper 08-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    6. Johan Almenberg & Artashes Karapetyan, 2012. "The hidden costs of hidden debt," Working Paper 2011/22, Norges Bank.
    7. Disney, Richard & Gathergood, John, 2013. "Financial literacy and consumer credit portfolios," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2246-2254.
    8. Natalia Shestakova, 2010. "Overcoming Consumer Biases in the Choice of Pricing Schemes: A Lab Experiment," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp418, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    9. Sumit Agarwal & John C Driscoll & Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2007. "The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions Over the Lifecycle," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001752, UCLA Department of Economics.
    10. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 5.
    11. John Y. Campbell, 2006. "Household Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(4), pages 1553-1604, August.
    12. Bucks, Brian & Pence, Karen, 2008. "Do borrowers know their mortgage terms?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 218-233, September.
    13. Sumit Agarwal & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Neale Mahoney & Johannes Stroebel, 2015. "Regulating Consumer Financial Products: Evidence from Credit Cards," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(1), pages 111-164.
    14. Agarwal, Sumit & Amromin, Gene & Ben-David, Itzhak & Chomsisengphet, Souphala & Evanoff, Douglas D., 2015. "Financial literacy and financial planning: Evidence from India," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 4-21.
    15. Lunn, Pete & Somerville, Jason J., 2015. "Surplus Identification with Non-Linear Returns," Papers WP522, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    16. Karapetyan, Artashes & Stacescu, Bogdan, 2014. "Does information sharing reduce the role of collateral as a screening device?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 48-57.
    17. Hazel Bateman & Christine Eckert & John Geweke & Jordan Louviere & Stephen Satchell & Susan Thorp, 2016. "Risk Presentation and Portfolio Choice," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 20(1), pages 201-229.
    18. Sumit Agarwal & Paige Marta Skiba & Jeremy Tobacman, 2009. "Payday Loans and Credit Cards: New Liquidity and Credit Scoring Puzzles?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 412-417, May.
    19. Sumit Agarwal & John C. Driscoll & Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2009. "The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions over the Life Cycle and Implications for Regulation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(2 (Fall)), pages 51-117.
    20. Sumit Agarwal & Sujit Chakravorti & Anna Lunn, 2010. "Why do banks reward their customers to use their credit cards?," Working Paper Series WP-2010-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    21. repec:spr:jecstr:v:6:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1186_s40008-017-0066-y is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Ardic, Oya Pinar & Ibrahim, Joyce A. & Mylenko, Nataliya, 2011. "Consumer protection laws and regulations in deposit and loan services : a cross-country analysis with a new data set," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5536, The World Bank.
    23. Victor Stango & Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "What Do Consumers Really Pay on Their Checking and Credit Card Accounts? Explicit, Implicit, and Avoidable Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 424-429, May.
    24. Scholnick, Barry, 2009. "Credit card use after the final mortgage payment: does the magnitude of income shocks matter?," Working Paper Series 1142, European Central Bank.
    25. Carin van der Cruijsen & Jakob de Haan & David-Jan Jansen & Robert Mosch, 2011. "Household savings behaviour in crisis times," DNB Working Papers 315, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Consumer credit ; Contracts;

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-06-11. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bernie Flores). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/frbchus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.