Credit Card Debt Statistics
Just like all the other types of debt, credit card debt in the United States has been growing over the past years. Credit card debt statistics show that in 2020, the total revolving balances in the country have reached $975.9 billion.
Moreover, with a national average credit card debt of $5,897 in 2020, the USA is far ahead of many other leading economies. Germany, China, Canada, and the UK are among the countries whose average credit card balance is under the $5,000 threshold.
Scroll down and find plenty of other stunning stats and facts about the average credit card debt in America. Discover the states with the highest balances and find more details on credit card debt by income as well as demographics.
Credit Card Debt Statistics (Editor’s Choice)
- Americans repaid a record $83 billion in credit card debt in 2020.
- In 2019, the average debt of American cardholders was $5,554.
- 47% of cardholders in the United States have never carried unpaid balances.
- Alaska has the highest average American credit card debt of $6,617.
- Americans aged 45-54 have the highest average credit card debt by age group.
- In 2019, there were 432.8 million cardholders in the United States.
Essential Credit Card Spending Statistics
1. 2020 saw Americans repay over $80 billion in credit card debt.
Consumers paid back as much as $83 billion in American credit card debt in 2020. The amount, dubbed a record by personal-finance site WalletHub, which released the data, was largely on account of COVID-19, which prompted households to focus on savings rather than spending. While stats show that the pandemic has done wonders for credit card debt in America, experts flag a surge in consumer spending as more people get vaccinated and restrictions are lifted.
2. Credit card interest rates on all accounts were about 14.75% in Q1 2021.
The accounts’ assessed interest rates were even higher, 15.91%, credit statistics reveal. In comparison, in 2016, the average interest rates on all credit card plans were about 12.35%, while accounts assessed interest stood at 13.56%. The same figures in Q1 2020 stood at 15.09% and 16.61%, respectively.
3. The USA has the highest average national credit card debt.
Shift Processing compared the median credit card debt in the United States in 2020 to the one in nine other countries worldwide. The USA is in the lead, according to global credit card debt statistics, with average 2020 debt of $5,331. Next come Canada ($4,154), the UK ($3,245), and Japan ($2,900). Other countries included in the comparison are Germany ($2,052), France ($1,616), and China ($1,728). The three countries with the lowest average national credit card debt are Italy ($811), Brazil ($497), and India ($302).
4. In Q4 of 2020, the average debt per borrower was $5,111.
In the period between 2017 and 2019, the average credit card debt per person was slightly increasing year-over-year. TransUnion’s American credit card debt statistics show that the average amount owed in credit card debt per borrower in the last quarters of 2017, 2018, and 2019 stood at $5,644, $5,736, and $5,835, respectively, noting a substantial drop to $5,111 in Q4 2020.
5. Credit card debt contributed to the lowest share of the total average household consumer debt in the United States in 2019.
The household consumer debt stats show that credit card debt plays the least significant role for Americans. Mortgage debt and student loan debt, however, cause the most headaches. That’s one of the most interesting credit card debt facts. The average mortgage debt in the US was $148,060, while the average student debt in the US was $33,654. Next comes the car/auto loan average debt at $18,588. According to the Shift Processing report, the average total household consumer debt in the US was $205,633 in 2019.
6. The average new account credit lines stood at $3,722 in Q4 2020.
Unlike the average total credit card debt that was continually increasing from 2017 to 2019, the average new account credit amount was virtually the same. In Q4 2017, this average was settled at $5,194. Then, Q4 2018 noted a jump to $5,247, as evidenced by stats on credit card debt. This was followed by a slight drop to $5,214 in Q4 2019, and a major one to $3,722 in Q4 2020. Higher credit lines also result in higher average credit card payments as well as increased total debt.
7. In Q4 2020, there was a total of 452.8 million credit cards in the United States.
The numbers point to an increasing number of cardholders. With that, the total number of credit cards is growing by the year. In Q4 2019, there were 454.7 million credit cards, while in Q4 2018, this number was lower at 429.9 million. Finally, the TransUnion American credit card debt statistics show that in Q4 2017, there were 418.6 million credit cards. Meaning, in the period between 2017 and 2020, the total number of credit cards increased by 34.2 million.
8. In Q4 2020, the delinquency rate on payments 90+ days past due date was 1.29%.
This is a substantial drop following the steady growth noted in this category for the period between 2017 and 2019. In Q4 2017, the delinquency rate on payments 90+ DPD was 1.87%. This percentage kept growing year-over-year, so in Q4 2018, it was 1.94%. In Q4 2019, in its credit card spending statistics, TransUnion recorded a delinquency rate on such payments of 2.18%.
9. Almost half the adults with at least one credit card never carried an unpaid balance.
When asked about the frequency of carrying credit card balance in the past 12 months, 48% claimed to pay bills on time. Late payments negatively impact the credit score and result in penalties. Still, the share of people failing to pay their balances once or some of the time was just over one-fourth, i.e., 26%. The rest of the participants (26%) admitted to carrying an unpaid balance on their credit cards most or all of the time.
It’s interesting to note that 81% of those who never carried balance have a 3-month savings fund, according to credit statistics. Only 54% of those who occasionally and 29% of people who most of the time carry balances have such a fund.
10. 23% of the education debt in the United States is credit card debt.
The Federal Reserve discovered that nearly one-fourth (23%) of people had credit card debt to pay for their own education. About 16% of people paying for their child’s or grandchild’s education admitted to acquiring credit card debt for this purpose. Still, in this category, the student loan debt is in the lead, with 95% of students and 85% of parents/grandparents having it.
11. In 2017, the average amount spent on interest charges per household was $1,300.
NewEra’s credit card statistics uncover the main reasons for credit card debt. Among medical bills and car repairs, their study also mentions interest charges. Their figures show that in 2017, American households paid about $1,300 per month on interest rates. Plus, let’s not forget that in the past few years, the average APR has increased. Meaning, in 2020, we expect this amount to be higher as well.
12. In 2013, more veteran households carried credit card debt compared with nonveteran households.
This was especially notable in households where the householder was 35-44, American credit card debt statistics show. Namely, 59% of veteran households carried credit card balances, which is higher than the 47.7% of nonveteran households. Veteran households with a male householder under 45 were the most likely to have this type of debt. It’s interesting to note that the total difference in credit card debt between veteran and nonveteran households was -2.9%.
(U.S. Census Bureau)
13. In 2013, veteran households carried larger credit card balances compared with nonveteran households.
U.S. Census Bureau credit card debt statistics establish that veteran households with a male householder owe more money in credit card debt. The total difference between veteran and nonveteran households with householders of 25+ was $500. Here, veteran households owed, on average, $4,000, and nonveteran households carried about $3,500. The difference is the most significant ($2,000) in the 35-44 age group. Here, the average household credit card debt for the first was $6,000, while the latter owe about $4,000.
(U.S. Census Bureau)
14. In 2016, 43.9% of US households carried credit card balances.
The share of families with this type of debt in 2013 was much lower at 38.1%, per the credit debt statistics. So, the trend of growing credit card balances among US households has been around for a while. As for the median balances owed, in 2013, the amount was $2,400 and higher than the $2,300 recorded in 2016. Meaning, in the period 2013-2016, the median credit card debt in US households dropped by 3%. The mean balance decreased by 3% as well, from $5,900 to $5,700.
Credit Card Statistics by State and Income
15. Alaska is the state with the highest credit card debt in America on average.
The state’s average credit card balance is $6,617. This is a fun fact because Alaska is the 3rd state with the lowest population. Connecticut and Virginia come close with their averages of $6,040 and $5,992. New Jersey and Maryland also deserve a mention here, thanks to their average American credit card debt of $5,978 and $5,977, respectively, as American credit card statistics highlight.
16. Iowa is the US state with the lowest average credit card balance.
Iowa is one of the two states, alongside Wisconsin, whose average debt is under $4,500. These two states have an average credit card balance of $4,289 and $4,376, respectively. Several other US states have fairly low averages of around $4,500 too, according to the stats on credit card debt. These include Kentucky ($4,521), Idaho ($4,582), and Mississippi ($4,587).
17. The Northeast and West Regions of the United States had the highest credit card debt in 2016.
These two American regions carried, on average, $4,000 each. The average American credit card debt in the Midwest Region was the second-highest at about $3,300. Finally, the South Region of the United States boasted the lowest debt of approximately $3,100. Also, it’s interesting to note that, regardless of the region, homeowners in the US carried significantly higher credit card balances. Namely, their average was $4,000, compared to $2,500 for those renting their home. This is one of the many amusing credit card debt facts.
(U.S. Census Bureau)
18. Americans who have the highest annual income also carry the highest average credit card debt.
This isn’t a surprising fact because it makes sense for the people who have the most money to spend the most money. So, Americans making more than $160,000 per year have an average debt of $11,200. The difference is huge when compared to those who make under $24,999 and whose average balance is only $3,000. Americans with salaries $25,000-44,999 carry a balance of $3,900 and those with income between $45,000-69,000 owe $4,900, according to credit statistics.
As the annual income increases, so does the average household credit card debt. So, among Americans who make $70,000-$114,999, the average is $5,800. Finally, those with annual income between $115,000-159,999, on average, owe about $8,300 on credit card debt.
19. 73% of Americans with stable income are confident that their credit card application would be approved.
In a study conducted by the Federal Reserve, most participants expressed confidence that they could get a credit card. Among those confident about getting a credit card, 26% had varying incomes, established the credit card spending statistics. For 20%, this represented no hardship for getting a credit card, while 6% said their varying income caused hardship.
20. 16% of Americans would acquire credit card debt to deal with a $400 emergency expense.
It seems that acquiring credit card debt is the easiest way for Americans to deal with cash emergencies. In a multi-answer questionnaire, most of them (16%) said they would choose this strategy if faced with a crisis of $400. Friends and family would be the obvious choice for 10% of the responders, the credit debt statistics reveal. About 12% said they wouldn’t be able to pay for such an emergency. Finally, 6% selected that they would sell something, 3% would use a bank loan, and only 2% would use a payday loan.
21. 7% of the adult population in the United States had unpaid or partially paid credit card bills.
A significant percentage of Americans with credit card debt (42%) expect to defer at least one bill. The Federal Reserve stats on credit card debt show that credit card delinquency is the most present among adult Americans. Right after unpaid credit card bills come unpaid utility bills (6%) and phone or cable bills (5%). Only 4% of people responded that they expect to leave unpaid rent or mortgage bills, while only 2% chose student loan payments.
22. 98% of Americans with a family income over $100,000 a year have at least one credit card.
About 90% of those living in a family with an income between $40,000-100,000 have at least one credit card. The situation is significantly different among people whose families earn less than $40,000. Here, the credit card debt statistics recorded only 61% who said they had at least one credit card.
23. Americans that didn’t participate in any government programs carried larger credit card balances.
This isn’t that surprising, considering that people need a good credit score to qualify for a credit card in the first place. Those with personal debt and low income, therefore, are rarely cardholders. So, Americans outside government assistance programs owed about $4,000 in 2016, as suggested by credit card debt facts.
People in one or more programs, in contrast, owed an average of $3,000. According to the 2018 American welfare stats, about 68 million people used at least one welfare program in the USA. Those on SNAP (food stamps) carried credit card balances of $2,100, while those on Medicaid owed about $2,900. Americans using Supplemental Security Income (SSI) had the highest average credit card debt of $3,000.
(U.S. Census Bureau)
Credit Card Debt by Demographics
24. Americans aged 45-54 carry the highest average credit card debt compared to the other age groups.
When comparing credit card balances by age, credit debt statistics set the peak among people aged 45-54. This group of Americans carries, on average, $9,096 in credit card balances. People under 35 and over 75 owe the least in credit card debt with average balances of $5,808 and $5,638. When it comes to those with the highest average, next come Americans aged 35-44 ($8,235) and 55-64 ($8,158).
Those belonging to the age groups between 65-69 and 70-74 have credit card debt of $6,876 and $6,465, respectively. Please note that student credit card debt statistics show that many millennials under 35 don’t have credit cards at all. This is the main reason why this age group has such a low average credit card balance. American credit card debt, however, is the highest among those 35-64, with the peak being between 45-54.
25. Generation X and Baby Boomers are the generations with significantly higher credit card debt compared to the rest.
Americans from Generation X carry, on average, a $7,750 in credit card balance, credit card statistics reveal. Right next come the Baby Boomers with their average credit card debt of $7,550. The top three in this category are rounded up by the Silent Generation, whose average debt in credit card balance is $4,610. Close to this amount is the average of $4,315 recorded among American Millennials.
Generation Z has a significantly lower average of $2,047. These figures, however, aren’t surprising or shocking. It makes sense for people in their prime to use their credit cards the most and vice versa. Plus, many individuals from Generation Z don’t even own a credit card yet, as shown by teenage credit card debt statistics.
26. In the US, women carry a lower credit card balance than men.
According to Shift Processing’s report, the average credit card debt among American men is $7,407. This figure is significantly higher than the average debt carried by American women of $5,245. The purchasing trends reveal that females mostly use their credit cards for small purchases. Men, by contrast, use them for big purchases. That’s the main reason for the difference in their balance as well as one of the more curious credit card debt facts.
27. White Americans carry the highest average credit card balance ($7,942) in the USA.
With almost $8,000 in balances, White Americans carry the highest average credit card payments and debt by race. Asians hold second place with an average debt of $7,660. Hispanics and African Americans have a significantly lower average balance on their credit cards. Their respective averages are $6,469 and $6,172. All the race groups are included under the ‘Other’ tab and carry an average debt of $7,026.
28. Households with at least one foreign-born member have slightly lower credit card balances.
Their average credit card debt per household was $3,400, credit card debt statistics reveal. In comparison, native families without foreign-born members had a more considerable debt of $3,500. However, the situation is much drastic when home debt is compared. Namely, here, the first category of families owed $160,000 as opposed to $116,000 owed by households from the second category.
(U.S. Census Bureau)
29. Families whose youngest child is aged 10-18 carry the highest average credit card balance.
Such households owe about $5,000 in credit card debt and have the highest average credit card bill per month. Families with younger children have lower debt. Those whose youngest child is under 5 carry $4,000, and those with a youngest child 5-9 owe $3,800 in credit card balance. American households that have no children under 18, on average, owe $3,000 in revolving debt.
Besides these interesting credit card debt facts, it’s curious to compare the numbers with married-couple and single-person household credit card debt. The first carry an average credit card debt per household of $4,500. The latter households have a significantly lower average credit card balance of $2,400.
(U.S. Census Bureau)
30. Americans with a graduate or professional degree owe the largest credit card debt.
The average balance among these people was $5,000. As the education level decreases, so do the amounts owed to credit card issuers. The average credit card debt for college students with a bachelor’s degree and associate’s degree was $4,000 and $3,500, respectively. Student credit card debt statistics reveal that Americans with some college, but no degree owed, on average, $3,000 in credit card debt. Finally, high school graduates and those without a high school diploma had respective balances of $2,500 and $1,350.
(U.S. Census Bureau)
Even though almost 50% of cardholders pay their due balances on time, the US credit card debt keeps growing. People who carry the most debt of this type are educated, well-paid, white, and male, according to credit card debt statistics.
Due to lower spending power and bad credit scores, the rest are unable to get significant credit lines. Therefore, households with low income and participating in governmental assistance programs carry the lowest credit card balances.