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Total American credit card debt is increasing

According to the Household Credit Card Debt Study by NerdWallet, Americans owe roughly $905 billion in credit card debt. That number, which is up from 2016, represents people who both pay off their debts every month as well as those who carry a balance on a monthly basis. While people throughout Florida and the rest of the country have more credit debt compared to last year, the total debt is not at record levels.

On average, an American household carries $15,654 in credid card debt. One reason why debt has risen is because credit cards are being used to help pay medical expenses. In the past 10 years, health care costs have gone up 34 percent while incomes have only risen 20 percent. Food and housing expenses as well as increasing interest rates have also contributed to higher levels of spending.

To keep interest charges to a reasonable level, debtors should strive to pay down their balances in full each month. Another option may be to make more payments each month, which will keep balances down. A debtor could also transfer an existing balance to a credit card that comes with a 0 percent interest rate. Introductory rates generally last for 12 to 18 months.

Attempting to pay off credit card debt may not be feasible for some. Those who are in need of debt relief may wish to file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can make it possible to retain property while also lowering debt balances. In a Chapter 13 case, debts are repaid over a three or five year period. Remaining balances may be discharged or further reorganized with creditor approval.

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