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Average Credit Card Debt: Statistics & Insights

Last updated: 2022

As more people switch to cashless payments, the global credit card industry is continuing to grow. Credit card debt accounts for a significant amount of our overall national consumer debt. It is also a major cause of financial hardship for many Americans who struggle to make their monthly payments.

In this article, we’ve curated a selection of key debt statistics everyone should know.

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Key Findings

  • Total U.S. outstanding credit card debt as of the third quarter of 2022 is $925 billion
  • The average credit card debt in 2022 is $6,569
  • The average household debt in 2022 is $8,942
  • Alaskans have the highest average credit card debt ($6,617), among all states
  • Americans in the 70+ and 45-54 age group hold the most credit card debt
  • Credit card debt is most predominant in the $59,000 to $95,000 income bracket at 55% and 57% respectively
  • People with more education carry higher credit card balances with college graduates carrying the most at $7,900
  • White Americans carry the most credit card debt, at an average of $6,940

TOTAL OUTSTANDING CREDIT CARD DEBT

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Despite slight decreases in 2020, credit card debt is on the rise again

Just like with other types of debt, credit card debt has been increasing, becoming a black cloud looming over many American households. However, after nearly a decade of steady increases, total credit card debt took an unexpected downward turn in 2020.

This marked the first time in seven years that any major consumer debt category plummeted, which was something of a surprise, particularly considering the economic complications caused by COVID-19.

As the global health situation returns to normal, credit card debt is once again headed back up. Recent data from the Federal Reserve shows that credit card debt increased to $925 billion as of the first quarter of 2022 -- up from $770 billion in the first quarter of 2021. With this increase, Americans' credit card debt is now higher than the record established in the fourth quarter of 2019, when balances totaled $927 billion.

CREDIT CARD DEBT OVER TIME

CREDIT CARD
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Adults carrying credit card debt

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Americans have managed their debt better in recent years

Americans have handled their credit card debt more responsibly in recent years, which has led to lower delinquency rates. Current delinquency rates are significantly lower than the totals Americans experienced after the Great Recession in 2009, when rates peaked at 10.96%.

In the second quarter of 2021, delinquency rates hit an all-time low at 3.39%. This is the lowest number recorded since monitoring began in 1991. The preceding quarter, Q1 2021, was the only other quarter in which the rate was less than 2%.

AVERAGE CREDIT CARD DEBT IN 2021

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The average credit card debt is continuing to weigh Americans down

Despite higher inflation, greater spending may indicate that Americans are feeling more optimistic about the future. Higher spending is also a reason for concern because most employees aren't experiencing the sort of pay growth that would sustain that increased spending. The surge has left the average credit card debt at $6,569, up from $5,525 in 2021 and $5,315 in 2020.

Typical credit card debt estimates climb for two-income households, when even though there are multiple incomes, there are also multiple people spending money. According to latest statistics, the average household credit card debt in 2021 is $8,701.

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AVERAGE CREDIT CARD DEBT BY STATE

The typical amount of credit card debt that people accumulate varies drastically from state to state. Alaska residents have the highest average of credit card debt — $6,617. Residents of Connecticut have the second-highest average, at $6,040, while Virginia is ranked #3 with $5,992.

The state with the lowest amount of average credit card debt is Iowa, at $4,289. Other states at the low end are Wisconsin ($4,376), Kentucky ($4,521), Idaho ($4,582) and Mississippi ($4,587).

AVERAGE CREDIT CARD DEBT BY AGE GROUP

Credit card debt tends to peak around ages 45-54 

Credit card debt fell across the country in 2020, but when the figures are broken down by age group, the story becomes more complex. The latest statistics for 2021 reveal that the average credit card debt is highest among those aged 75 and up. Debt among senior citizens is becoming a serious threat, with half of the country at risk of saving too little for retirement.

The figures also show that credit card debt tends to peak somewhere around middle age (45-54 years) and then declines steadily throughout the later part of consumers' lifetimes.

With an average credit card debt of $3,660, cardholders under age 35 have the lowest credit card debt totals compared to other generations. For borrowers in that age bracket, student loans are the largest source of debt.

AVERAGE CREDIT CARD DEBT BY INCOME

There is a strong correlation between average income and average credit card debt. The greater a person’s income, the higher their credit card debt. Americans who earn less than $16,000 have an average debt of $3,830, while those with the highest credit card debt on average ($12,600) typically earn over $290,160 per year.

AVERAGE CREDIT CARD DEBT BY EDUCATION

Credit card debt increases with education 

Average credit card debt rises along with the borrowers' highest levels of education. This is no surprise, as median income also rises with education levels.

Americans with a bachelor's degree, for example, earn more than twice as much as those with only a high school diploma. And as previously established, more income equates to larger credit card debt.

High school diploma

Americans with high school diplomas have the lowest average credit card debt at $4,900 ,which also correlates with their annual income.

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Some college

Americans who have completed some college coursework carry higher credit card debt -- averaging $6,200 -- compared to counterparts with high school diplomas.

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College degree

College graduates have twice as much credit card debt as Americans with a high school diploma, at $7,900 on average.

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AVERAGE CREDIT CARD DEBT BY RACE

Different racial classifications carry different average amounts of credit card debt

Just like with income, race has a parallel connection with average credit card debt. People who identified as white (non-Hispanic) reported average credit card debt of $6,940.

The “other” group, which includes Asians, American Indians and people who identify as multi-racial, carried an average credit card debt of $6,320. Blacks had the lowest amount of debt, with an average of $3,940.

FOUR WAYS TO LOWER YOUR CREDIT CARD DEBT

Consolidate your debt

Debt consolidation has the ability to lower your interest payments and help you get out of debt faster.

Create a payoff plan

Even if you can't pay off your debt entirely, decreasing your credit card balances by any amount is typically a smart financial decision.

Use your tax refund

You can put any IRS refund you get to good use by putting it to your high-interest credit card debt.

Cut expenses

When you identify strategies to cut your monthly costs and your spending patterns, you can prevent incurring additional credit card debt.

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