Credit card debt statistics

Jeff Herman
Managing Editor
Career news journalist who enjoys chasing trending stories

 

Americans’ revolving debt, the bulk of which is credit card balances, hit $1.027 trillion1 in March 2018, according to the Federal Reserve. Revolving debt clocked in at over $1 trillion for the first time since the Great Recession last September.

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What is the average credit card debt?

Average credit card debt depends on how you measure it. (See our story, “How much is the average credit card debt in America?” for details on these calculations).

The average credit card debt is:

  • $1,154 per card that doesn’t carry a balance 
  • $1,734 per account, U.S. adults with a credit report and Social Security number3
  • $1,841 average balance on store credit cards.2
  • $4,087 per person, U.S. resident adults4
  • $5,422 per cardholder, excluding unused cards and store cards5
  • $5,839 per U.S. adult with a credit card4
  • $6,354 average balance on credit cards at the end of 2017, according to Experian. That is up 2.7 percent, from $6,188 at the end of 2016.2

The amount of average credit card debt has been steadily increasing, after dipping in the wake of the Great Recession. Balances have been creeping up since then at a national level, though some states have seen decreases.

 

The average credit card debt per borrower also has been rising in recent years to $5,472 in the first quarter of 2018, according to TransUnion statistics.

 

Transactors versus revolvers

Card issuers divide the world into two groups: “transactors” who use their cards for purchases and pay off the balances each month; and “revolvers” who carry balances on their cards, paying interest charges month to month.

To pure transactors, the balances on their cards aren’t really debts at all, since any purchases will be paid off before interest charges are applied.

The percentage of U.S. households revolving credit card debt from month to month has been rising recently to 38 percent in 2018 after steadily falling from 41 percent since 2010, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  

Credit card delinquency rates trending up again

Credit card delinquency rates track the percentage of Americans who are late in paying their bills, and as such, often are a harbinger or rising credit card debt.

Recently, credit card delinquencies of 30 days or more, as tracked by the Federal Reserve, have been increasing after falling for years. Delinquencies ballooned in the wake of the Great Recession, which started at the end of 2017, then began tapering off.

Credit card delinquency rates, like average card debt, vary. Some sources consider a credit card account to be delinquent if it is past due by 30, 60 or 90 days.

How to get out of credit card debt

If you are late paying your credit card bills and struggling in a quicksand of debt, there are ways to erase all of that red ink.

One option: Balance transfer cards, with a 0 percent interest introductory period usually for a year or more, can give you breathing room to whittle away at your credit card debt until it’s gone before the higher interest rate kicks in.

For other ways out of your credit card debt, please see: 8 things you must know about credit card debt

Sources:

  1. Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit for May 2018
  2. Experian’s State of Credit 2017
  3. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Household Debt and Credit Report, third quarter 2017
  4. Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit for December 2017 (CreditCards.com story on report) and U.S. Census population estimate 2017
  5. TransUnion Consumer Credit Growth, Balance & Delinquency Trends: Q2 2017 report
See related: Credit card statistics, Credit card delinquency statistics


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Updated: 06-22-2018