U.S. Credit Card Debt Statistics 2021
As more people switch to cashless payment methods, the global credit card business will continue to rise year after year. Credit card debt accounts for a sizable amount of our overall national debt. It is also a significant cause of financial difficulty for many Americans who struggle to pay their payments on a monthly basis.
In this article, we’ve curated a selection of key debt statistics everyone should know heading into 2022.
- Total U.S. outstanding credit card debt as of second quarter of 2021 is $790 billion
- The average credit card debt in 2021 is $5,525 and $8,701 per household
- Alaskans have the highest average credit card debt ($6,617), among all states
- Americans in the 70+ and 45-54 age group hold the most credit card debt
- Credit card debt is most prominent in the $59,000 to $95,000 income bracket at 55% and 57% respectively
- People with more education carry higher credit card balances with college graduates carrying the most at $7,900
- White Americans are carrying the most credit card debt, at an average of $6,940
TOTAL OUTSTANDING CREDIT CARD DEBT
Despite slight decreases in 2020, credit card debt is rising again
Just like with any type of debt, credit card debt has been increasing, becoming a black cloud looming over many households in the U.S. However, after nearly a decade of steady increase, total credit card debt took an unexpected downward turn in 2020.
This marks the first time in seven years that any major consumer debt category plummeted, which transpires a surprising turn of events considering the economic situation caused by COVID-19.
With things turning back to normal, credit card debt is once again headed back up. The recent Fed data reveals that credit card debt increased to $790 billion as of the second quarter of 2021 up from $770 billion in the first quarter. Despite the increase, Americans' credit card debt is still far lower than the record established in the fourth quarter of 2019, when balances totaled $927 billion.
CREDIT CARD DEBT OVER TIME
Adults carrying credit card debt
Number of credit card accounts
Number of new credit cards
Americans have managed their debt better in recent years
Americans have handled their credit card debt more effectively in recent years, which is proven through lower delinquency rates. Current delinquency rates are by leaps and bounds lower than what Americans experienced after the Great Recession in 2009, when rates peaked at 10.96 percent.
As of second quarter of 2021, delinquency rates hit an all-time low at 3.39 percent. This is the lowest number recorded since monitoring began in 1991. The preceding quarter, Q1 of 2021, was the only other quarter in which the rate was less than 2%.
AVERAGE CREDIT CARD DEBT IN 2021
The average credit card debt is continuing to weigh Americans down
While greater spending may indicate that Americans are feeling more optimistic about their future and the economy, it is also a reason for concern because most employees aren't experiencing the sort of pay growth that would sustain that increased spending. The surge has left the average credit card debt at $5,525 down from $5,315 in 2020 and $6,194 in 2019.
Estimates climb when looking at typical household credit card debt when there is the possibility of two or more incomes and numerous persons spending. According to latest statistics, the average household credit card debt in 2021 is $8,701.
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AVERAGE CREDIT CARD DEBT BY STATE
The typical amount of credit card debt that people accumulate varies drastically from state to state. The typical borrower in Alaska has the highest average of credit card debt—$6,617. Residents of Connecticut have the second-highest amount of average credit card debt at $6,040, while Virgina trails right behind with $5,992.
The state with the lowest amount of average credit card debt is Iowa, at $4,289. Other states at the low end are Wisconsin ($4,376), Kentucky ($4,521), Idaho ($4,582) and Mississippi ($4,587).
AVERAGE CREDIT CARD DEBT BY AGE GROUP
Credit card debt tends to peak around 45-54 years
Credit card debt fell across the country in 2020 but when the figures are broken down by age group, the story becomes more complex. The latest statistics for 2021 reveal that the average credit card debt is highest among those aged 75 and up. Debt among senior citizens is becoming a serious threat, with half of the country at risk of saving too little for retirement.
The figures also show that credit card debt tends to peak somewhere around middle age (45-54 years) and then declines steadily throughout the later part of consumers' lifetimes.
AVERAGE CREDIT CARD DEBT BY INCOME
There is a strong correlation between average income and average credit card debt. The greater a person’s income, the higher the credit card debt. Americans who earn less than $16,000 have an average debt of $3,830, while those with the highest credit card debt on average ($12,600) typically earn over $290,160 per year.
AVERAGE CREDIT CARD DEBT BY EDUCATION
Credit card debt increases with education
Average credit card debt is higher for those with higher levels of education. This is no surprise as median income rises with each level of education.
Americans with a bachelor's degree, for example, earn more than twice as much as those with only a high school diploma. As previously said, more income equates to larger credit card debt.
AVERAGE CREDIT CARD DEBT BY RACE
Different racial classifications carry different average amounts of credit card debt
Just like with income, race has a parallel connection with average credit card debt. People who identified as white (non-Hispanic) reported an average credit card debt of $6,940.
The “other” group, which includes Asians, American Indians and people who identify as multi-racial, carried an average credit card debt of $6,320. Blacks had the lowest amount of debt, with an average of $3,940.
FOUR WAYS TO LOWER YOUR CREDIT CARD DEBT
Consolidate your debt
Debt consolidation has the ability to lower your interest payments and help you get out of debt faster.
Create a payoff plan
Even if you can't pay off your debt entirely, decreasing your credit card balances by any amount is typically a wise financial option.
Use your tax refund
You can put any IRS refund you get to good use by putting it to your high-interest credit card debt.
When you identify strategies to cut your monthly costs and your spending patterns, you can prevent incurring additional credit card debt.