Which age group is falling behind on their credit card debt?

  • Americans have racked up nearly $1 trillion in credit card debt
  • Delinquency rates are rising, particularly among young people
  • Federal Reserve widely expected to skip another rate hike next week

File – Credit cards as seen July 1, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. A low credit score can hurt your ability to take out a loan, secure a good interest rate, or increase a credit card spending limit. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

(NewsNation) — Credit cards are the most common type of debt in the U.S. and Americans are racking up quite the bill at this time of high inflation.

Over the past two years, the nation’s credit card debt has increased by almost $250 billion — a total that now stands at nearly $1 trillion.

For many, that borrowing is out of necessity. More than a third of Americans now use credit cards or loans to meet their spending needs, according to recent data from the Census Bureau.

Today, about 45% of people say they’re worse off financially compared to a year ago, a recent NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll found.

Delinquency rates up among young adults

More Americans are falling behind on their credit card payments, especially young people. Over the past year, the delinquency rate on credit cards — 90 days or more past due — for 18-29 year-olds increased from 5.1% to 8.3%, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

That’s nearly two times the average delinquency rate across all age groups, which rose to 4.6% this year.

Failing to pay off credit cards can be particularly damaging for young people because it hurts their credit scores and ability to borrow in the future.

Despite the recent uptick, today’s delinquency rates are still average compared to the last two decades. In the early 2000s, those rates hovered around 12% for young people before hitting 14% during the great recession, per New York Fed data.

As a group, middle-aged Americans have the most credit card debt outstanding. Those ages 40 to 59 hold a balance of $440 billion.

Credit card interest rates surge with Fed hikes

American consumers have been hit by a one-two punch — rising prices and higher interest rates. Since March 2022, the Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate 10 times in an effort to crush demand and cool inflation.

Those hikes have led to higher annual percentage rates for people with credit card debt, which means higher interest payments.

At the start of 2022, the average interest rate across all credit card accounts was 14.56%, according to the Federal Reserve. A year later, that rose to 20.09%, a record high.

Today, nearly half of credit card holders carry debt from month to month, according to Bankrate.

That 5% difference effectively doubles the total amount of interest paid. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Average credit card debt per household (WalletHub estimate): $9,654
    • Interest Rate (APR) in 2022: 14.56%
      • Monthly Payment: $200
      • Time to pay off: 72 months
      • Total interest paid: $4,728
    • Interest Rate (APR) in 2023: 20.09%
      • Monthly Payment: $200
      • Time to pay off: 97 months
      • Total interest paid: $9,649

The Federal Reserve is widely expected to “skip” another rate hike when it meets next week — a decision that could slow rising credit card rates, at least temporarily.

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