30 Credit Card Debt Statistics & Facts

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 surpassed $1 trillion.

Moreover, with a national average credit card debt of $5,331, 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)

  • In February 2020, the credit card debt in America was over $1 trillion.
  • 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 $7,726.
  • 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. Credit card debt in the United States surpassed $1 trillion in February 2020.

The Federal Reserve’s latest report shows that the credit card revolving debt in February 2020 stood at $1,09 trillion. This figure notes a 4.6% year-on-year jump of the American credit card debt. In Q1 of 2019, the total credit card debt carried by Americans was also over $1 trillion, i.e., $1.06 trillion. The annual rate of the overall flow of revolving debt in the United States was 50.4%.

(Federal Reserve)

 

2. Credit card interest rates on all accounts were about 15.09%.

The accounts’ assessed interest rates were even higher, 16.61%, credit statistics reveal. In comparison, in 2015, the average interest rates on all credit card plans were about 12.09%. Meaning, over five years, the average interest rates increased by 4.52%. In February 2020, the average APR on 24-month personal loans was much lower at 9.63%.

(Federal Reserve)

 

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).

(Shift Processing)

 

4. In Q1 of 2019, the average debt per borrower was $5,554.

In the period between 2016 and 2019, the average credit card debt per person increased. So, in Q1 of 2018, this amount was $5,427, up from $5,332 in the prior-year quarter. TransUnion’s American credit card debt statistics show that the average amount owed in credit card debt per borrower in Q1 of 2016 was $5,193, pointing to slight but steady growth.

(TransUnion)

 

5. The credit card debt contributed to the lowest share of the total average household consumer debt in the United States.

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 is $148,060, while the average student debt in the US is $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 is $205,633.

(Shift Processing)

 

6. The average new account credit lines stood at $5,296 in Q1 2019.

Unlike the average total credit card debt that continually increases, the average new account credit amount was virtually the same. In the first quarter of 2016, this average was settled at $5,091. Then, Q1 2017 noted a jump to $5,262, as evidenced by stats on credit card debt. It’s been slowly progressing towards the $5,300-mark ever since. In Q1 2018, it was $5,283, and in Q1 2019, it was $5,296. Higher credit lines also result in higher average credit card payments as well as increased total debt.

(TransUnion)

 

7. In Q1 2019, there was a total of 432.8 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 Q1 2018, there were 416.5 million credit cards, while in Q1 2017, this number was lower 405.8 million. Finally, the TransUnion American credit card debt statistics show that in Q1 of 2016, there were 386.4 million credit cards. Meaning, in the period 2016-2019, the total number of credit cards increased by 46.4 million.

(TransUnion)

 

8. In Q1 2019, the delinquency rate on payments 90+ days past due date was 1.89%.

Steady growth was noted in this category for the period 2016-2019, as well. In Q1 of 2016, the delinquency rate on payments 90+ DPD was 1.50%. This percentage kept growing year over year, so in Q1 of 2017, it was 1.69%. In Q1 of 2018, TransUnion in its credit card spending statistics recorded delinquency rate on such payments of 1.78%.

(TransUnion)

 

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, 47% 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 (27%) admitted to carrying an unpaid balance on their credit cards most or all of the time. It’s interesting to note that 78% of those who never carried balance have a 3-month savings fund, according to credit statistics. Only 53% of those who occasionally and 29% of people who most of the time carry balances have such a fund.

(Federal Reserve)

 

10. 24% of the education debt in the United States is credit card debt.

The Federal Reserve discovered that about one-fourth (24%) of people had credit card debt to pay for their own education. About 15% 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 93% of students and 81% of parents/grandparents having it.

(Federal Reserve)

 

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.

(NewEra)

 

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.

(Federal Reserve)

 

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 $7,726. This is a fun fact because Alaska is the 3rd state with the lowest population. None of the other states have an average debt of over $7,000 or more. Connecticut and New Jersey, however, come close with their averages of $6,876 and $6,881. Maryland deserves mention here too thanks to its average American credit card debt of $6,750. American credit card statistics highlight Texas as the last US state whose average is over $6,500, i.e., $6,611.

(Shift Processing)

 

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 $5,000. These two states have an average credit card balance of $4,622 and $4,810, respectively. Several other US states have fairly low averages of around $5,000 too, according to the stats on credit card debt. These include Idaho ($5,027), North Dakota ($5,074), Mississippi ($5,030), and Kentucky ($5,017).

(Shift Processing)

 

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.

(Shift Processing)

 

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.

(Federal Reserve)

 

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.

(Federal Reserve)

 

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.

(Federal Reserve)

 

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.

(Federal Reserve)

 

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 ager 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.

(Shift Processing)

 

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.

(Shift Processing)

 

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.

(Shift Processing)

 

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.

(Shift Processing)

 

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 does 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)

 

Summary

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.

 

References: Federal Reserve, Shift Processing, TransUnion, Federal Reserve, NewEra, U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Reserve, U.S. Census Bureau

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