What is the Average American Credit Card Debt?

american credit card debt

What is the Average American Credit Card Debt?

There seems to be a wide disparity of opinions over what the average American credit card debt really is; some politicians and economists readily throw around figures such as the average American credit card debt is eight thousand dollars, or eleven thousand dollars, or six thousand dollars.

Some folks say it is less; others more. Much of the disagreement results from different ways of measuring how much debt someone has. If you remember your high school math classes, you may remember something called the “mean.” At the time, it may have seemed like the same thing as “average,” but it is quite different. Some economists and other “experts” rely on averages, others on means. Also, some figures are based on household debt; other figures are based on individual debt.

There is always some degree of misrepresentation possible if studies use “household” criteria, since credit reports, credit histories, and credit scores are done only for individuals, even if the debts involved are joint debts.

No matter how you look at the big picture, however, one thing is certain. If you, as an individual or together with your spouse, owe a lot of money on your credit cards, you probably wish you didn’t; you probably even dream about some day being completely free of credit card debt. You may also be skeptical about your ability to ever make that happen, but it is possible to reduce or even eliminate your credit card debt.

There are several options you can choose from. You can devise a plan yourself and stick to it; you can seek the advice of nonprofit credit counseling groups; you can pay a fee for assistance from for-profit companies that work with you to get rid of your debt, or you can hire an attorney or other professional who specializes in such matters; you can even file bankruptcy if necessary.

Bankruptcy should really be a last resort, as it has long-lasting consequences on your buying power and credit score, and it is a long and time-consuming, and even exhausting process, but it is definitely an option if there is no other reasonable way for you to reduce your debt load.

If you choose to take matters into your own hands, the best advice is to stop using your credit cards, cut up all but one of them, and start making the biggest payment you can to one card, while making only minimal payments on the others.

Then, once your one card is zeroed out, start the process over with the next card, and so on until you have no balances remaining. It sounds easy in theory, I know, but you may be thinking that you can’t do that. If you have no idea how to go about setting spending limits and budgeting for the reduction of your credit card debt, it is probably best to consult with a professional for some expert advice.

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