U.S. Card Debt is (Almost) Out of Control

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The average household now carries a credit card debt of more than $7,000 -- a level approaching what one study calls "unsustainable."

The good news: U.S. consumer credit card debt indicates that the economy continues to improve.

The bad news: U.S. consumer credit card debt continues to increase.

Those are among the findings of CardHub’s 2014 Credit Card Debt Study.

While fourth-quarter defaults reached their lowest level since CardHub’s sister site, WalletHub, began tracking credit card debt six years ago, average household credit card balances reached their highest level in five years — $7,178, according to the study.

CardHub has identified $8,300 as the “tipping point” for average household credit card debt, meaning the site considers it an “unsustainable” amount of debt.

“That $8,300 figure was the average credit card balance back in the throes of 2008 when the economy started taking the downturn,” CardHub spokeswoman Jill Gonzalez told CBS News. “This is a sign that Americans haven’t really learned their lesson. Their attitude toward credit card debt hasn’t improved since the recession.”

We increased our net credit card debt load by $57.1 billion last year. That increase is more than $10 billion higher than it’s ever been since WalletHub started tracking credit card debt.

It doesn’t help that, although the economy and unemployment might be improving, our income hasn’t necessarily followed suit. America hasn’t had a raise in 35 years, according to a comprehensive report recently issued by the Economic Policy Institute.

Are you faring better or worse than the average household when it comes to credit card balances? Let us know in a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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