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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 22, 2008

Angela Waugaman, for Visa Inc.
703-683-5004, ext. 133

Steve Burke, for Visa Inc.
703-683-5004, ext. 108

Visa Survey Finds Two-Thirds of Americans Save Monthly for Major Expenses

Setting Aside for Emergencies and Retirement are Top Priorities

San Francisco, CA - December 22, 2008 - Americans are setting aside more money for emergencies than any other saving needs, according to new surveys released today by Visa Inc. Saving for emergencies and a rainy day (30 percent) topped the list of what Americans set aside money for, followed by retirement (20 percent) and education (10 percent). Overall, sixty-six percent of Americans surveyed said they set aside some amount every month for major expenses.

Additionally, Visa surveys in seventeen regional markets found that Los Angeles area respondents set aside the most for emergencies (39 percent), followed by Orlando (34 percent) and San Antonio (33 percent). New York City, Chicago and the state of Vermont ranked near the bottom, with each of these areas reporting only 22 percent of residents saving for emergencies.

The Visa surveys come on the heels of recently released figures by the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis showing that America's personal saving rate, as a percentage of disposable personal income, had climbed from 1.0 percent in September to 2.4 percent in October.

"Having money set aside for financial emergencies is always a good idea and is particularly important in today's economic climate," said Jason Alderman, Director of Financial Education at Visa Inc. "The best New Year's resolution you can make is to start setting aside money on a regular basis to cover the unexpected."

Visa's surveys asked the questions (1) Do you set aside money every month for any major expenses? If so, (2) what are you saving for? Results are in the chart below.

What are you saving for?(National) Percentage
Emergencies/Rainy Day 30%
Retirement 20%
Education 10%
Future Needs 10%
Bills/Living Expenses 9%
Holidays/Occasions 8%
Purchasing a Home 8%
Home/Car Repairs 7%
Purchasing a Car 7%
Health Care 4%
Family 3%
Taxes 2%

The chart below shows the percentage in 17 regional markets, among those respondents setting aside money every month for any major expense, who said they set aside money each month for emergency/rainy day expenditures.

Are saving monthly for emergencies?(Regions) Percentage
Los Angeles, CA 39%
Orlando, FL 34%
San Antonio, TX 33%
Cincinnati, OH 32%
Springfield, MO 32%
Washington, D.C. 30%
National Average 30%
Miami, FL 28%
San Francisco, CA 26%
Pittsburgh, PA 26%
Austin, TX 25%
Philadelphia, PA 25%
Charlotte, NC 24%
Baltimore, MD 23%
Springfield, IL 23%
New York, NY 22%
Chicago, IL 22%
Vermont 22%

To help consumers of all ages better manage their money, Visa offers Practical Money Skills for Life (, a free, comprehensive financial education program that is available in English, Spanish and Chinese.

As part of this program, Visa is providing money management tips that can help consumers start the New Year off on the right financial foot:

Prepare for the Unexpected/Save for Emergencies: Some financial experts recommend putting aside six months of living expenses in an easily accessible account in case you lose your job, incur unexpected medical expenses or experience other unplanned events. Also, you should have a valid will, durable power of attorney, health care proxy (health care durable power of attorney) and a living will, along with adequate disability and life insurance.

Create and Stick To a Livable Budget: Before making a purchase, it's a good idea to get in the habit of asking yourself: Do I need this item or do I want it? Balancing needs vs. wants is a good way to make sure you are living within your means.

Trim expenses: A few relatively painless ways to save hundreds - or thousands - of dollars a year include reducing energy bills and cutting back on restaurant meals.

Save for Retirement: Nearly half of Americans have saved less than $25,000 for retirement. If you're not already participating in your employer's 401(k) plan or an IRA, make that one of your top financial resolutions.

Safeguard Your Credit: Your credit rating determines everything from qualifying for a mortgage, renting an apartment, getting a car loan or being approved for a payment card. Be sure to check your credit reports for errors or fraudulent activity and report any to the bureaus immediately. You can order one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus at For tips on ways to improve your credit score and to get a free estimate of your score, visit Visa's What's My Score web site (

Visa's national survey was of 1,000 consumers, 18 and older, by phone. The survey had had an overall margin of error of +/-3.1%. Visa also conducted 17 regional surveys in key cities. These 17 regional surveys were conducted among 400 consumers, 18 and older, in each region. The regional surveys have a 4.9% margin of error.

About Visa Inc.
Visa Inc. operates the world's largest retail electronic payments network providing processing services and payment product platforms. This includes consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments, which are offered under the Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS brands. Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world, and Visa/PLUS is one of the world's largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit

Contacts: Angela Waugaman, CRC Public Relations, Tel: +1 703-683-5004, ext. 133, Steve Burke, CRC Public Relations, Tel: +1 703-683-5004, ext. 108

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