Most US Families Aren’t Mired in Credit Card Debt

Photo (cc) by xJason.Rogersx

You’ve probably seen headlines like this: Americans have an average of $15,000 in credit card debt!

That’s not the case. And now the Survey of Consumer Finances, a major report issued by the Federal Reserve every three years, gives a new in-depth look at how Americans have been handling their credit cards.

They’ve gotten much better with debt. In fact, most families don’t carry a credit card balance from month to month.

The report says:

Between 2010 and 2013, the fraction of families with credit card debt … decreased. Median and mean balances for families with credit card debt fell 18 percent and 25 percent, respectively, and the fraction of families that pay off credit cards every month increased.

Some of the highlights from the report:

  • In 2013, 38.1 percent of households carried a credit card balance, compared with 39.4 percent in 2010. That’s a continuation of a decline from 2007.
  • The median balance for families that carry a balance was $2,300 in 2013, down 18 percent from $2,800 in 2010. Median means half of households had more and half had less than that amount.
  • The mean or average balance among those who carry a balance fell from $7,600 in 2010 to $5,700 in 2013, a 25 percent drop.
  • Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said they carry a credit card for convenience and do not carry a balance, up from 56.2 percent in 2007 and 63 percent in 2010.

So much for 2013. There are indications that some people have lost their credit card discipline.

A new study by CardHub says:

While U.S. consumers paid down roughly $32.5 billion in outstanding credit card debt during the first quarter of 2014, we erased nearly all of that with the largest Q2 debt build-up witnessed since the Great Recession. Therefore, CardHub now projects that U.S. consumers will end the year with $54.79 billion more credit card debt than we started with.

Ouch.

CardHub said the average household credit card balance increased by $174 in the second quarter, raising it to $6,802. What’s more, the credit card comparison site said it anticipates that debt will exceed $7,000 by the end of the year.

How is your credit card spending? Are you starting to carry a balance? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Karen Datko contributed to this post.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
5 Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
5 Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

5 Reasons You Should Work for as Long as You Live
5 Reasons You Should Work for as Long as You Live

These benefits might make you think twice about retirement.

Can My Wife Use My Social Security Benefits While Letting Hers Grow?
Can My Wife Use My Social Security Benefits While Letting Hers Grow?

Your self-discipline in not uttering three little words helps determine whether you can use a key claiming strategy.

7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach
10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach

Does the pandemic have you reaching for bleach more than ever before? Learn the ins and outs of using this powerful disinfectant.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.