National Credit Card Debt Statistics – 2015

FINDING THE RIGHT NUMBERS

Credit card debt is a financial situation that affects millions of households in the United States. Narrowing down the average numbers and statistics concerning credit card debt is no easy task; there are numerous factors that apply. First, you need to define your parameters, including definitions for credit cards, number of card carriers, how cardholders use their cards, etc. Even if you have your parameters clearly defined and narrowed down, the numbers still tend to vary depending on your sources. As far as conducting a reliable survey, the truth is that the topic of credit card debt is often considered taboo, maybe even more so than politics or religion. Getting people to honestly talk about credit card debt is no easy task. However, there are statistics that seem to match up on occasion, giving an adequate representation of our country's credit card debt.

NATIONAL AVERAGES

Here is where things get tricky. According to CreditCards.com, the average household carries $5,596 in credit card debt. However, this figure excludes unused cards as well as store cards. The study does make an attempt to figure in other factors and specific situations, as you can see below:

  • $5,596 per U.S. adult with a credit card
  • $5,700 credit card debt per household
  • $7,743 per card that carries a balance

For more figures, visit CreditCards.com.

There are other averages out there currently being reported. For example, NerdWallet reports a similar, yet different, figure for average household credit card debt: $7,281. It should be noted that they report this amount to be current as of May 2015, so that may be enough to account for the discrepancy between the two household amounts being reported. NerdWallet points out an interesting component to this figure: it is based off households both with and without credit card debt. When specifying this average to only households that have credit card debt, then the average more than doubled: $15,609.

TOTAL AVERAGES

Now it's time to total up these averages, which add up to some truly shocking numbers. NerdWallet reports the following totals for 2015:

  • Americans owe $11.91 trillion in debt, including mortgages, loans, and credit cards.
  • $884.8 billion in credit card debt
  • $8.2 trillion in mortgages
  • $1.18 trillion in student loans

GDP Bit

    CreditCards.com reports that the national total for credit card debt is more than the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of Belgium and Denmark combined (as of 2013). Simply put: Americans owe more money than those two countries make.

    CREDIT CARD DEBT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

    According to a survey performed by the National Small Business Association in 2012, 50% of small businesses paid off their credit card charges every month. 26% of small businesses carry a balance of $10,000 or less. Fortunately, most small businesses are able to stay out from under large amounts of debt.

    HOW ARE WE DOING COMPARED TO PREVIOUS YEARS?

    Seeing these averages and totals can be quite depressing, but how do they stack up against previous years? Are we working towards lowering the amount of credit card debt we have? Well, the good news according to CreditCards.com is YES!

    Fewer

    Averages may vary up or down depending on whom you ask, but more Americans are eliminating their credit card debt every year since 2009. That's great news. The jury is obviously still out for 2015, but the pattern looks promising. Though it should be noted that these percentage drops are not solely due to debts being repaid; there are plenty of situations in which credit card companies have discharged delinquent debts, thus helping to lower the numbers a bit. But in 2014, only one in three U.S adults say that they carry credit card debt from month to month, as opposed to paying off any charges they make in the following billing statement. This number is down 44% from 2009 when the recession was in full swing.

    DO YOU HAVE SUBSTANTIAL CREDIT CARD DEBT?

    Despite a decline in households who carry credit card debt, there is still a large portion of the population that is burdened down by credit cards. Some may simply be living outside their means while others are relying on credit charges due to some unfortunate circumstances. Regardless, there are options to help you find relief from credit card debt and gain financial freedom. Talk with a bankruptcy attorney to discuss which of these options is available to you.