What if Americans paid the national debt with plastic?

National debt calculator lays out what you'd owe, how long it would take to pay

Think your credit card debt is bad enough already? Try tacking on your share of the U.S. national debt.

The nation's debt, which is currently frozen at an eye-popping $14.3 trillion, is so high that the country has hit its so-called "debt ceiling," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced on Monday. That means that Congress or the Treasury have to take measures -- including possibly raising the debt ceiling even higher -- to keep the U.S. from defaulting on its obligations. In a letter to Congress, Geithner said the government had taken some temporary measures to keep itself afloat until about Aug. 2, 2011, but after that, the nation would likely default. Geithner warns that the ramifications of a national default would be catastrophic for the U.S. and world economy, though some in Washington are skeptical of how big the impact would really be.

All of this made us wonder: If every American pitched in and helped pay the national debt with his or her own credit card, just how much would it cost each of us? We created the calculator at the bottom of this page to help find the answer. You can even customize it with your own credit card's APR to find your total bill.

And if you're feeling generous, once you've done your calculations, you can actually make a donation to help pay down the national debt at Pay.gov. You can even put your contribution on your credit card.

See related: Secretary Geithner's letter to Congress, 8 steps to reducing credit card debt, 8 things you must know about credit card debt

Join the discussion
We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.

Weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, advice, articles and tips delivered to your inbox. It's FREE.

Updated: 03-26-2019