In 1998, 73 percent â€“ or nearly three-fourths â€“ of American families had one or more credit cards, up from 51 percent in 1970.
The information was contained in an article published Monday in September's edition of the Federal Reserve Bulletin.
Credit cards issued by banks, gasoline companies, retail stores, travel and entertainment companies, car rental companies and airlines were all counted in the survey.
Bank-type credit cards with a revolving feature such as those issued under the MasterCard and Visa brands showed the most notable increase during the period.
The biggest increase came in MasterCard and Visa bank cards, with 68 percent of families reporting having one in 1998, compared with 16 percent in 1970.