The USA Today recently ran a story detailing the impact of credit card debt on the average American household by the end of 2017. According to studies by Varo Money, some 25% of US credit cardholders will take up to 6 months to pay off their holiday-related spending, and 16% of cardholders will eliminate that debt within 1-3 months.
However, the situation is not as bleak as one might expect, given that 46% of the Americans polled in the survey were aiming at repaying their debt within the first month. The latest stats place US credit card debt at over $1.02 trillion. A FOX Business Report presented by Stuart Varney found that the average American household has credit card debt to the tune of $16,000, or more.
Credit Card Debt is Rising
The Federal Reserve Bank and the US Census Bureau have confirmed that US household credit card debt is up 10% since 2013, with an average interest repayment of $1,292 per year, at 18.76%. By May 2017, credit card debt increased 6% year on year, and eclipsed the highs of the 2008/2009 global financial crisis. A minority of US households take longer than a month to repay their debt, with some 60% of those surveyed indicating that they make all credit card repayments within 30 days.
The demographics of debt dispersion are interesting. Men tend to have significantly more debt than women, and debt reaches an apex for people between 35 years old and 54 years old, but gradually declines afterwards. People aged 75+ in the US have the lowest levels of debt in the country compared to all other age groups. In terms of income earning potential and debt, there is a positive correlation. African-Americans and Hispanics have lower levels of debt than Asians and Caucasians, yet debt is a pervasive issue that needs to be tackled effectively at all levels.
Holiday Spending and Debt-Related Problems
During the holiday season, US consumers tend to increase their spending on gifts. 28% of people polled admitted to spending between $250 and $500 on holiday gifts in 2017, with last-minute items being purchased by a total of 36% of people. It is interesting that improved personal finances are high on the agenda of New Year’s resolutions for US consumers, and this makes it all the more important to maximize credit card repayments and minimize expenses. Here are 5 ways to reduce credit card-related debt:
1. Try to Reduce the Daily Average Balance by Repaying Credit Card Debt Frequently since credit card companies assess your balance based on the average daily balance and not the end of month balance, it’s important to repay your outstanding balance more than once a month. The more frequently you make payments, the lower the average daily balance, and the lower your overall interest-related payments will be.
2. Credit Cards with the Highest Interest Rate Should Be Paid off First. This is a no-brainer. Wherever the debt burden is greatest is where customers should hit their debt hardest. High interest credit card debt, personal loans, or other lines of credit should always take priority over low interest debt with favourable terms.
3. Consider Debt Reduction/Elimination Methods like debt consolidation to reduce the burden of interest-related payments and to pay down the principal quicker. By consolidating your debt through a debt consolidation loan at a lower interest rate than the credit card interest rate, you can save money every month and pay down the principal much quicker.
4. High Expense Items like Medical Bills Should Never Be Placed on a Credit Card given that they are substantial to begin with, and will only incur significantly higher interest -related payments. There are many interest-free payments plans available through medical services precisely for this purpose.
5. Seek out Credit Cards With 0% APR, Low Interest Rates, or Generous Rewards Programs if possible. If you’re going to be spending money anyway, you might as well enjoy 2% cash back on your purchases, and repay the card in full every month with cash back rewards.