NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Americans and Credit Card Debt

Americans and Credit Card Debt


                Americans reached a new high at the conclusion of 2016, but it is not the type of record that is worth celebrating. Outstanding credit card debt topped $1 trillion at the end of 2016, according to The Nilson Report, a card and mobile payment trade publication.

                While household income has grown over the past decade, it has failed to keep up with the increased cost of living over the same period.  To bridge the gap, more Americans rely on credit cards,- a very expensive way to borrow money. The average credit card interest rate is 19.36 percent and the average American household pays a total of $1,332.80 in credit card interest each year

                Our credit card debt is comprised of many types of debt, but in recent years it has become more heavily weighted toward mortgages and student loans.

                Credit card debt is spread out over a wider pool of Americans than student debt is. Nearly four times as many Americans have card debt than student loan debt, the Nilson report said.  There were 157 million Americans with outstanding debt on one or more credit cards at the end of 2016, but just 44 million with student loan debt.

                Average credit card debt varied widely by state or region. According to data from the credit reporting agency TransUnion, the typical Alaska residents carried the most credit card debt – an average of $6,910 – this is 23% more than Colorado, which is the next state carrying the highest average credit card debt. 

                The average householder in Iowa holds just $3,885 in credit card debt, which is almost half as much as the rest of the nation. North and South Dakota, and Nebraska were among other states which came in with low average credit card debt per household.  Good job North Dakota!  All three of those states are in the vicinity of owing $4,182 on their credit cards.

                Credit card debt appears to peak for individuals who are between 45 and 54 years old - $9,096. Millennials and individuals over 74 years old held the least credit card debt. These two groups are also among the least likely to have a credit card.


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