Research and Statistics

Infographic: The face of senior card debt


Medical bills take up most of the debt of the seinor citizen community, while credit card debt is a close second

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

Debt of most types is on the rise for America’s seniors, and credit card debt is no exception.

Roughly a third of households headed by someone age 60 or older carried some card debt during the years 2004-2013, according to a recent study by the National Council of Aging. But from 1989-2001, the proportion with credit card debt hovered closer to a quarter.

Median card balances have also climbed. In the study’s five earliest reporting periods – from 1989-2001 – the median card balance (among seniors with a balance) was well below $2,000. In the four periods since 2004, the median was substantially above $2,000, with a peak nearing $3,000 in 2007.

Only medical bills were found to impact seniors’ financial security more frequently than credit card debt. In surveying aging network professionals about how frequently different types of debt impact the financial security of their senior clients, credit card debt was cited as an occasional, frequent or very frequent threat among 88 percent of the older adults.

The aging network professionals further reported that they see about 1 in 4 of their clients forgoing needed home or car repairs as a result of their debt burden, and roughly 15 percent each skipping medical appointments or missing a rent or mortgage payment.

Released Feb. 9, 2016, the National Council on Aging’s “Older Adults and Debt: Trends, Trade-offs, and Tools to Help” report is based on both a May 2015 survey of 72 aging network professionals representing a cross-section of state and community organizations that serve older adults and data from several national surveys of consumer finances and debt.




See related:Infographic: Average card balances by age 2003-2015, More infographics

To use the graphic on your site, use the following code:

 <center><a href=””><img alt=” infographic: The face of senior card debt” border=”0″ src=”” /></a> </center>

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

What’s up next?

In Research and Statistics

Positive card habits up, negative ones down

Americans pay their credit card bills in full more often, and avoid costly behavior, a six-year survey series finds

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: November 25th, 2020
Cash Back

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more