This is how much the average American has in credit card debt

FeaturedMoney

Written by:

 

The average credit card debt in the U.S. is $5,525, according to the credit bureau Experian’s State of Credit 2021 report. However, the average credit card debt per person can vary greatly depending on factors such as an individual’s location and age. Economic conditions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, also have an influence on credit card debt.

 

Read on for a breakdown of the average credit card debt in America, as well as some tips if you’re among those dealing with credit card debt.

______________________

SPONSORED: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.

2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals get started now.

______________________

 

 

 

 

Related: Can you pay off credit card debt with a personal loan?

Average Credit Card Debt in the US

In 2021, the average credit card holder had $5,525 worth of credit card debt, per Experian’s report. This was nearly 7% lower than the $5,897 in average credit card debt that was recorded in the same report in 2020. Overall, American’s credit card debt totaled $856 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021. This represents an increase of $52 billion from the third quarter of 2021, though it still falls below the record-high level of credit card debt reported in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Average Credit Card Debt by State

America’s credit card debt varies widely by state. For example, per Experian’s report, Wisconsin and Iowa were tied for the lowest average amount of credit card debt at $4,587. Meanwhile, Alaska had the most credit card debt at $7,089 on average.

 

Overall, the five states with the highest average credit card debt were the following.

Highest credit card debt in the US

On the other end of the spectrum, the states with least credit card debt were the following.

 

States with the lowest credit card debt

When analyzing the average credit card debt in America by state, it appears that rural states with lower incomes have the lowest level of debt, while smaller urban states with higher incomes have the most debt. The clear exception is Alaska, which has the highest level of credit card debt, perhaps because of its higher cost of living and the highly seasonal nature of the state’s economy.

Average Credit Card Debt by Age

Another way to look at credit card debt is to break it down by average credit card debt by age. Per data from Experian, credit card debt in 2021 was highest among Generation X (ages 41-56), followed by baby boomers (ages 57-75), and then millennials (ages 25-40).

 

Gen X has a staggering $7,070 of credit card debt on average, compared to an average of $2,282 in Generation Z (ages 18-24). Meanwhile, baby boomers have an average of $5,804 in credit card debt, while millennials have $4,576. The silent generation (ages 76+), on the other hand, has $3,177 on average in credit card debt.

 

What’s also notable, however, is how quickly each generation’s average credit card debt is rising. While levels of credit card debt are on the decline for Gen X, baby boomers, and the silent generation, they’re increasing for millennials and Gen Z.

COVID-19 Pandemic Effect on Credit Card Debt

Average credit card debt in the U.S. declined during the COVID-19 pandemic despite the economic challenges it brought. In 2020, when the pandemic began, the average credit card balance was $5,315. In 2021, there was a 1.8% decline, with average credit card debt levels falling to $5,221.

 

The Federal Reserve has attributed this decrease in credit card debt to a general decline in purchase volume as consumers stayed home and canceled plans during lockdowns. The number of debt paydowns and prepayments (one way how credit card payment works) also rose during the pandemic, which could partly be due to the economic stimulus payments that many Americans received.

3 Tips to Get Out of Credit Card Debt

While it’s interesting to learn the average amount of credit card debt in the U.S., it doesn’t help you much when you’re struggling to pay down your own credit card debt. Thankfully, there are several ways to get out of credit card debt.

1. Using Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Some credit card issuers offer new applicants 0% annual percentage rate, or APR, financing on balance transfers. This enables you to transfer existing credit card debt to a new card and gives you a break from incurring interest charges. And when you transfer balances from multiple cards, you’re consolidating your debt as well, which can make it easier to stay on top of payments since you’ll have just one instead of multiple.

 

Promotional APR offers last a minimum of six months and can extend up to 21 months. Just note that you’ll incur a balance transfer fee, which is typically 3% to 5% of the amount transferred. With the way credit cards work usually, the balance transfer fee is added to the balance of the new account.

 

The key to utilizing a balance transfer credit card is to pay a portion of your remaining balance each month before you resume swiping at places accepting credit card payments. This ensures that you have the entire balance paid off by the time the promotional rate expires and the standard rate resumes.

2. Getting a Personal Loan to Consolidate Debt

Another option to pay off credit card debt is to use a personal loan to consolidate debt. Personal loans are typically installment loans with fixed monthly payments and a fixed repayment schedule. Approval typically is based on your personal credit history and credit score.

 

If you have good or excellent credit (meaning 670+), you might be able to qualify for a loan with a lower interest rate than your current credit cards have. When you receive money from a personal loan, you can use it to pay off your credit card debt, which may have higher interest rates, especially if your APR is above the average credit card interest rate.

3. Receiving Credit Counseling

You could also look for a credit counseling service that can offer advice on how to manage your credit card debt and pay it off. There are non-profit credit counselors who can help you to choose from one of many possible solutions, such as credit card debt forgiveness. They can also offer general financial education, such as explanations of important credit card definitions and tips on budgeting.

 

Counseling can take place in person, online, or over the phone. You may be able to find non-profit credit counseling services through a university, military base, credit union, or housing authority.

 

Learn More:

This article originally appeared on LanternCredit.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

Lantern by SoFi:

This Lantern website is owned by SoFi Lending Corp., a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license number 6054612; NMLS number 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

All rates, fees, and terms are presented without guarantee and are subject to change pursuant to each provider’s discretion. There is no guarantee you will be approved or qualify for the advertised rates, fees, or terms presented. The actual terms you may receive depends on the things like benefits requested, your credit score, usage, history and other factors.

*Check your rate: To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Lantern and/or its network lenders conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender(s) you choose will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

All loan terms, including interest rate, and Annual Percentage Rate (APR), and monthly payments shown on this website are from lenders and are estimates based upon the limited information you provided and are for information purposes only. Estimated APR includes all applicable fees as required under the Truth in Lending Act. The actual loan terms you receive, including APR, will depend on the lender you select, their underwriting criteria, and your personal financial factors. The loan terms and rates presented are provided by the lenders and not by SoFi Lending Corp. or Lantern. Please review each lender’s Terms and Conditions for additional details.

Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website on credit (https://consumer.ftc.gov/credit-loans-debt)

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Personal Loan:

SoFi Lending Corp. (“SoFi”) operates this Personal Loan product in cooperation with Even Financial Corp. (“Even”). If you submit a loan inquiry, SoFi will deliver your information to Even, and Even will deliver to its network of lenders/partners to review to determine if you are eligible for pre-qualified or pre-approved offers. The lenders/partners receiving your information will also obtain your credit information from a credit reporting agency. If you meet one or more lender’s and/or partner’s conditions for eligibility, pre-qualified and pre-approved offers from one or more lenders/partners will be presented to you here on the Lantern website. More information about Even, the process, and its lenders/partners is described on the loan inquiry form you will reach by visiting our Personal Loans page as well as our Student Loan Refinance page. Click to learn more about Even’s Licenses and DisclosuresTerms of Service, and Privacy Policy.

Personal loan offers provided to customers on Lantern do not exceed 35.99% APR. An example of total amount paid on a personal loan of $10,000 for a term of 36 months at a rate of 10% would be equivalent to $11,616.12 over the 36 month life of the loan.

Student Loan Refinance:

SoFi Lending Corp. (“SoFi”) operates this Student Loan Refinance product in cooperation with Even Financial Corp. (“Even”). If you submit a loan inquiry, SoFi will deliver your information to Even, and Even will deliver to its network of lenders/partners to review to determine if you are eligible for pre-qualified or pre-approved offers. The lender’s receiving your information will also obtain your credit information from a credit reporting agency. If you meet one or more lender’s and/or partner’s conditions for eligibility, pre-qualified and pre-approved offers from one or more lenders/partners will be presented to you here on the Lantern website. More information about Even, the process, and its lenders/partners is described on the loan inquiry form you will reach by visiting our Personal Loans page as well as our Student Loan Refinance page. Click to learn more about Even’s Licenses and DisclosuresTerms of Service, and Privacy Policy.

Student loan refinance loans offered through Lantern are private loans and do not have the debt forgiveness or repayment options that the federal loan program offers, or that may become available, including Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or Pay as you Earn (PAYE).

Notice: Recent legislative changes have suspended all federal student loan payments and waived interest charges on federally held loans until 08/31/22. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans, as in doing so you will no longer qualify for these changes or other future benefits applicable to federally held loans.

Auto Loan Refinance:

Automobile refinancing loan information presented on this Lantern website is from Caribou. Auto loan refinance information presented on this Lantern site is indicative and subject to you fulfilling the lender’s requirements, including: you must meet the lender’s credit standards, the loan amount must be at least $10,000, and the vehicle is no more than 10 years old with odometer reading of no more than 125,000 miles. Loan rates and terms as presented on this Lantern site are subject to change when you reach the lender and may depend on your creditworthiness. Additional terms and conditions may apply and all terms may vary by your state of residence.

Secured Lending Disclosure:

Terms, conditions, state restrictions, and minimum loan amounts apply. Before you apply for a secured loan, we encourage you to carefully consider whether this loan type is the right choice for you. If you can’t make your payments on a secured personal loan, you could end up losing the assets you provided for collateral. Not all applicants will qualify for larger loan amounts or most favorable loan terms. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on the ability to meet underwriting requirements (including, but not limited to, a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral) that will vary by lender.

Life Insurance:

Information about insurance is provided on Lantern by SoFi Life Insurance Agency, LLC. Click here to view our licenses.

More from MediaFeed:

What happens to your debt when you die?

 

Do you know what will happen to your debt when you die? Some debts are forgiven while others may be passed down to heirs. Read on for the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions related to death and debt.

 

SPONSORED: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.

2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

 

panida wijitpanya / istockphoto

 

In order to accurately answer this question, we need to examine the most common types of debt people accumulate. In other words: Not all debt is equal. The type of debt you have and when you accumulated the debt will determine how and if your debt is passed on to others when you die.

The Most Common Types Of Debt

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

If you die with credit card debt, there are two things that may happen:

  1. Your debt may be forgiven and written off by the credit card company
  2. The debt will be passed on and the responsibility of a survivor

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

If you are the sole owner of the debt when you die, (not married or a cosigner) the credit card companies will be involved in the probate process. The money left in your estate, any retirement accounts, or other items worth money will be sold and the outstanding debts will be paid.

If there is not enough money in your estate to pay off the remaining credit card balance, your children or beneficiaries will not be required to pay the remaining balance. The outstanding debt will be “forgiven” by the credit card company.

 

Farknot_Architect / istockphoto

 

If the credit card is a joint account with a living spouse or a cosigner, the other account holder will be responsible for the debt. If you have authorized users on the account but they are not the account owner, the users will not be responsible for the debt.

 

bernardbodo / istockphoto

 

This is one of those myths that continues to live on. Credit card debt does not go away after seven years. The confusion with the seven-year time frame comes from the credit report time requirement.

After seven years, old debts begin to fall off of your credit report. Your debt, however, is still very much alive and owed. Lenders can and will continue to pursue the amount owed until it is paid, settled, or charged off. Do not be fooled into thinking your credit card debt will go away after seven years.

 

Farknot_Architect / istockphoto

 

The quick answer? It depends. There are several factors that determine if a deceased spouse’s credit card debt will be passed along to the surviving spouse. If the credit card debt was incurred before marriage and the deceased spouse was the sole owner of the account, in most cases, the debt will not be the responsibility of the surviving spouse.

If the credit card debt was incurred after marriage and the deceased spouse was the sole owner of the account, the state you live in determines the surviving spouse’s responsibility. If you live in one of these community property states and the debt was incurred after marriage, the surviving spouse is responsible for the credit card debt of their spouse regardless of the account ownership:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

If you do not live in one of these states, generally the surviving spouse will not be responsible for the credit card debt if they were not a joint owner of the account. If you are a joint owner on the account, you are now solely responsible for the debt.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Again, where you live determines what can happen to your medical bills when you die. Generally speaking, children and heirs will not be required to pay back the outstanding medical bills of their parents. With that being said, there are a couple of instances where a child could be responsible for the medical debt of their parents.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

When a child cosigns admission paperwork acknowledging financial responsibility if the adult is unable to pay their bills, this debt may be passed down to the child.

 

gorodenkoff / istockphoto

 

There are 26 states that have filial responsibility laws that state a child may be responsible for a deceased parent’s medical debt in certain situations. The states that have filial responsibility laws are:

  • Alaska
  • Kentucky
  • New Jersey
  • Tennessee
  • Arkansas
  • Louisiana
  • North Carolina
  • Utah
  • Indiana
  • Nevada
  • California
  • Maryland
  • North Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Ohio
  • Virginia
  • Iowa
  • New Hampshire
  • Delaware
  • Mississippi
  • Oregon
  • West Virginia
  • Georgia
  • Montana
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Rhode Island

Now, before you become overly concerned about living in one of these states, understand that the enforcement of filial responsibility laws is extremely rare. If you have significant medical debt, consult with an attorney in your state to see exactly what responsibility your adult children may be required to pay back.

 

Rawpixel / istockphoto

 

Student loan debt may or may not be passed on to survivors when the borrower dies. What happens to the loan depends on what type of loan was taken out and when it was established.

SPONSORED: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.

2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

 

Ta Nu/ istockphoto

 

If you have federal student loans, they will be forgiven upon death. Federal student loans do not pass on to others as long as a death certificate is presented to the lender. Federal student loans that fall into this category are:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Federal Perkins Loans

 

zimmytws / istockphoto

 

On Nov. 20, 2018, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act was amended. The added section releases cosigners of a private student loan from financial responsibility if the primary borrower dies. Due to this, all new private student loans with cosigners are not required to repay the loan upon the student’s death.

However, student loans with cosigners taken out before Nov. 20, 2018, may still require the cosigner to be held responsible for the debt.

 

istockphoto

 

Federal Direct PLUS Loans are also forgiven upon the student’s death. In the past, the parent who signed for the PLUS loan was required to bear the burden of the tax responsibility and file the forgiveness as “income” after a child’s death.

Currently, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, is in effect and releases parents from this tax responsibility. This tax stipulation remains in effect until the year 2025.

 

designer491 / istockphoto

 

There is several different scenarios involving vehicle loan debt upon the borrower’s death. If the auto loan has a cosigner or the vehicle was purchased in a community property state after a couple was married, the cosigner or spouse is responsible to repay the auto loan.

If the loan was obtained before marriage and is only in the deceased spouse’s name, generally the surviving spouse is not held responsible for the debt. The bank will take possession of the vehicle to settle the outstanding debt or the surviving spouse can pay off the vehicle loan.

If the borrower is not married, the survivors can either pay off the vehicle loan and keep the vehicle, sell the vehicle and pay off the loan or return the vehicle to the bank. Heirs do not inherit vehicle loan debt.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Payday loan debt is very similar to credit card debt when you die. If there was not a cosigner or someone else listed as jointly responsible for the loan, then the company writes off the debt as a loss. Payday loan debt is not transferred to heirs but may be the responsibility of a surviving spouse if the debt was incurred after marriage in a community property state.

 

relif / istockphoto

 

In probate, the home must be paid off with the funds from the estate or the mortgage company must agree to let someone else inherit the loan. If you still owe money on your home, your spouse or heirs usually have three separate options:

Option 1: Sell the home to pay off the outstanding mortgage. The executor of the will can initiate a home sale to fulfill the outstanding debt obligations. If the home is not worth what is owed, additional money from the estate will be used to pay off the mortgage. If additional money is still required, the bank can take possession of the property.

Option 2: If there is enough money in your estate, your heirs can use that money to pay off the mortgage. Or the beneficiaries can use their own money to pay off the loan in full.

Option 3: If there is not enough money in the estate to pay off the loan, an heir may elect to contact the lender in an attempt to take over the loan. The loan would need to be transferred into the new borrower’s name which would require the heir to meet the credit obligations for a loan.

 

PRImageFactory / istockphoto

 

Lenders can force the sale of a property to fulfill the outstanding equity loan balance if the estate does not have enough capital to pay it off. This is another scenario where the heir may be able to apply with the lender to take over the payments.

 

 

Depositphotos

 

If you have federal tax debt when you die, the IRS gets the first chance at your estate. Legally, the executor of the state is unable to pay any other debt or obligation until the federal tax debt is settled.

If a substantial amount is owed, the IRS will quickly put a lien on any property owned by the deceased in an attempt to satisfy the debt. The federal government will get their money one way or another – but the heirs will not personally be liable for the outstanding tax debt.

 

supawat bursuk / istockphoto

 

There is not an automatic notification process when a person dies. The next of kin or executor of the state is required to contact the bank and provide a copy of the descendant’s death certificate.

When the death certificate is presented, the financial institution will freeze all of the associated accounts until the probate process is completed. If money is not owed to other lenders, the beneficiaries will be given access to any monies left in the deceased person’s accounts.

 

marchmeena29 / istockphoto

 

Even though most debts will not be passed on to your heirs when you die, you may not want them to deal with the hassle of paying off all your debt with your estate – only to be left with nothing.

If you have struggled with debt your entire life, a cheap term life insurance policy may be an option to leave a small inheritance to your heirs. Most life insurance policies are dispersed tax-free and are not accessible to creditors.

 

sturti

 

Leaving debt behind is a fear many seniors face. On the bright side, your heirs will usually not be personally responsible for paying off your outstanding debts. However, the sooner you can clean up your own financial mess, the better.

Do your best to start paying off your debt so your executor is not faced with a long probate process. If you need help getting started, check out this related post The Debt Payoff Playbook.

This article originally appeared on Arrest Your Debt and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

Deposit Photos

 

 

tumsasedgars/istock

 

Featured Image Credit: fizkes / istockphoto.

AlertMe