- The average American’s credit card debt falls around $6,300.
- The amount of credit card debt a person carried varies based on factors like income, education, credit score range, and race.
- Credit card consolidation loans, balance transfers, and repayment plans may help you manage debt more effectively.
Credit cards can be convenient and useful, especially when used wisely. Unfortunately, getting into a cycle of revolving debt can easily happen when it comes to credit cards. That’s especially true if you’re anything like the 49% of Americans who rely on credit cards to cover essential expenses.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the average amount of credit card debt held by American consumers.
How much credit card debt does the average American have in 2022?
In the first quarter of 2022, American consumer credit card debt hit a total of $840 billion. While the number has decreased marginally from 2021’s peak at $860 billion, it still represents a historically high amount of consumer debt.
In September 2020, the Federal Reserve reported that the average credit card debt per household between 2016 and 2019 was about $6,300.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at how credit card debt varies based on factors like age, income, and education.
What is the average credit card debt by age?
Overall, American cardholders younger than 24 have the least amount of credit card debt, followed by those over 75 years of age. Cardholders between 40 and 55 years-of-age have the most credit card debt, reporting an average of $7,236.
|Age Range||Average Credit Card Debt in 2021|
|76 and above||$3,177|
What is the average credit card debt by education level?
According to the Federal Reserve, Americans with college degrees carry more than double the credit card debt than cardholders without a high school diploma. Yet, while college graduates tend to carry higher balances, a smaller percentage of graduates have credit card debt compared to their peers.
For instance, only 43% of college graduates have credit card debt, compared to 52% with some college education and 47% with a high school diploma.
|Education Level||Average Credit Card Debt in 2019|
|No high school diploma||$3,400|
|High school diploma||$4,900|
What is the average credit card debt by income percentile?
The average amount of credit card debt tends to trend upward with income. Cardholders who fall below the 20th annual income percentile and make the least amount of money carry the least amount of credit card debt. Those who fall within the 90th percentile carry the most debt, owing more than $12,000 on average.
|Annual Income Percentile||Average Credit Card Debt in 2019|
|Less than 20
(Median income $16,290)
(Median income $35,630)
(Median income $59,050)
(Median income $95,700)
(Median income $151,700)
(Median income $290,160)
What is the average credit card debt by credit score range?
Your credit score is one of the factors determining your ability to access credit. However, average credit card debt tends to decrease as credit scores increase.
Consumers with higher credit scores (over 781) generally have the least amount of credit card debt, followed by those with subprime scores (below 600). Cardholders with credit ratings ranging from 601 to 660 carried the most debt, with balances averaging above $8,000.
|VantageScore® 3.0 Score Range||Average Credit Card Debt in 2022|
Source: Credit Karma 2022 Study
What is the average credit card debt by race or ethnicity?
According to a Federal Reserve survey, participants who identified as White reported carrying the most credit card debt. Families identifying as “other” races—including Asian, multi-racial, or Native American families—followed with an average balance of $6,320. Households identifying as Black carried the least credit card debt, with an average balance of $3,940.
|Race||Average Credit Card Balances|
|Other (Asian, Native American, Multi-Racial)||$6,320|
3 tips to manage credit card debt
Credit cards can be useful and convenient. But if you’re not careful, it’s easy to rack up expensive credit card debt that can take years to pay off. As you can see, it’s common to have credit card debt.
In fact, nearly 50% of Americans carry at least some credit card debt. Fortunately, there are steps you can take today to better manage your credit card debt.
Consider the following tips to take control of your credit card debt:
1. Talk to your credit card company
If you’re struggling to pay off credit card debt, get in touch with your credit card issuer. Your card issuer may be willing to work out a manageable repayment plan with you if you think you can’t make your payments. Some credit card companies also offer hardship programs that could reduce or delay your monthly payments for a period of time.
2. Consider a balance transfer card
Balance transfer cards may allow you to move higher interest credit card debt to another card with better terms. Some balance transfer cards even come with a 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR) period. This interest-free window could allow you to make payments on your balance without incurring any extra charges.
That said, balance transfer cards aren’t for everyone. If you can’t repay your debt during the interest-free period, you could face steep interest charges on the remaining balance. In addition, balance transfer cards can come with expensive transfer fees ranging from 3% to 5% of the amount transferred.
Balance transfer cards may also have credit limit restrictions. Depending on how much debt you have, you may not be able to transfer the entire balance from your existing credit card accounts. With that in mind, take some time to review the terms carefully before signing up for a balance transfer credit card.
3. Use a credit card consolidation loan
Finally, you can consider a credit card consolidation loan—also known as credit card refinancing. Credit card consolidation allows you to replace multiple credit card balances into one through a personal loan. Ideally, a credit card consolidation loan will come with better terms than your credit card, such as a lower monthly payment, better interest rate, or longer repayment period.
By using a personal loan to pay off your credit cards, you’ll reduce your credit utilization and potentially save more on interest. Credit card refinancing can also make it easier to pay your debt off faster. Rather than juggling multiple payments with different interest rates, you can make one simple, fixed payment each month.
Take the first step to a life with less credit card debt today
Credit card debt may seem like an unavoidable part of life, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Instead, you can take the first step to a life without credit card debt today.
Consider your circumstances to determine the best option for you. If you’ve got a relatively small balance and want to cut back on interest while paying it off, a balance transfer card could help you do just that.
On the other hand, a debt consolidation loan may be a good idea if you’ve racked up a lot of expensive credit card debt. Still, it’s important to shop around for the best rates, especially if your credit score has taken a hit due to outstanding debt. In many cases, lenders use your score to determine your interest rate, which could result in higher monthly payments.
But we do things differently at Upstart. Our model looks beyond your credit score and considers education¹ and experience to find you an affordable credit card consolidation loan. Learn more about your options and check your rate today.
¹Neither Upstart nor its bank partners have a minimum educational attainment requirement in order to be eligible for a loan.