us credit card statistics for debt

US Credit Card Usage and Credit Card Debt Statistics in 2022

May 11, 2022

Credit cards are designed to get us to spend as much as we want. With an easy “swipe now, worry later” approach, your credit card debt can easily get out of hand if you don’t keep track of your spending. And apparently, that’s what happened to the American people in these last few years.

In 2022, the total credit card debt of Americans is humongous, but what is the full picture?

In this article, we’ll go over the credit card statistics for debt, usage, and more for the last two quarters of 2021 and the beginning of 2022. We’ll take a look at how much is owed, how many accounts carry a balance, and other interesting credit card debt statistics.

How Much Credit Card Debt Is Owed by Americans?

According to a report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the total balance for credit card debt ascended to $856 billion in the final quarter of 2021. That’s a stunning number on its own, but its impact is made more apparent when compared to the third quarter, where the debt was at $804 billion. That means that in the span of about 3 months, credit card debt rose by $52 billion.

That’s the largest increase seen between quarters in the entire 22-year history of the report, as well as the third quarter in a row that the debt has increased. Overall, 2021 saw the largest increase in nominal debt since 2007.

The results are not unsurprising considering this comes a year after the pandemic, but they are still worrying. However, the debt is actually lower than its historical highest point, which was $927 billion during the fourth quarter of 2019.

Given the recent economic downturn, it’s likely that the first quarter of 2022 sees even higher numbers.

How Many Accounts Carry a Balance?

52% of all active credit card accounts carried a balance during the third quarter of 2021, according to a report from the American Bankers Association. If we take a look at all accounts, active or not, the number falls to 40% for the same time period. 36% of the active accounts didn’t carry a balance, and 24% were considered dormant.

The data paints a troublesome scenario. With credit cards, the goal is to pay the balance in full every month to avoid the high-interest rates and fees. However, understandably not everyone is able to do so every time.

Still, the fact that more than half of the active accounts are currently failing to meet that goal means that most people are currently unable to pay their bills in full. And with credit cards, that just means creating a cycle of debt that only deepens due to the interest rates.

And yet, only a tiny fraction of all the credit cards have delinquent balances of at least 30 days. Only 1.62% of all accounts have balances that are at least 30 days old. That’s slightly higher than the number seen in April of 2021, when it was just 1.54%. While the percentage increase, numbers are still lower than they have ever been since the reporting started, and far off from the 7% seen during 2009.

What’s the Average Interest Rate?

For the first quarter of 2022, the average APR of all credit cards was 14.56%, which was slightly higher than the 14.51% seen during the fourth quarter of 2021. For credit cards that accrued interest, the average APR was 16.17% during 2022, which was lower than the 17.13% and 16.44 seen during the third and fourth quarters of 2021.

The 17.13% average seen during Q3 2021 was the second-highest average reported by the Federal Reserve since 1994.

However, for new credit card offers the APR is a lot higher, sitting at 19.68% on average. Credit card offerings currently have a variable APR range of 16.11% to 23.25%, depending on several factors such as your credit and account standing. Given the announcement from the Federal Reserve of a rise in interest rates, expect your credit card’s APR to rise in the coming months.

How Is the Credit Card Usage Divided Among Lenders?

According to data gathered by Nilson Report in 2022, the volume of all purchases made during 2021 with credit cards from the top seven lenders was divided in the following way:

  • Chase Bank: $950 billion
  • American Express: $868 billion
  • Citi Bank: $483 billion
  • Capital One Bank: $455 billion
  • Bank of America: $414 billion
  • Discover: $182 billion
  • U.S. Bank: $166 billion

The total purchase volume generated by them was $3.517 trillion, up 25.6% from the previous year.

Interesting Credit Card Debt Statistics

There are a lot of interesting numbers to see in the latest reports from the Federal Reserve and Credit Card lenders. Here are some statistics on credit card use in the United States:

  • The average American has 3 credit cards, and 83% of all adults have at least one card.
  • There are 531.540 million credit cards in the U.S.
  • When divided by race, the amount of adults that have credit cards is 87% for White Americans, 92% for Asian Americans, 72% for African Americans, and 76% for Hispanic Americans
  • The baby boomer generation has the highest average number of cards at 5, while Gen Z has the lowest at 1.7.
  • People with incomes lower than $100,000 are more likely to carry a balance from month to month.
  • The average debt is $8,590 per household as of the fourth quarter of 2021.
  • The average minimum payment due for the average credit card monthly bill is $110.50.
  • The average debt of Americans within the 90th to 100th annual income percentile was $12,600
  • Credit card debt was the most common type of debt during 2019, with more than 45% of families reporting debt after their last payment.
  • The use of credit cards for payments increased from 24% to 27% between 2019 and 2020.
  • Alaska has the highest overall credit card balances, which are 30.9% higher than the average, while Iowa has the lowest balances at 17% lower than average.
  • Gen Z is reported to be turned down twice as much as any other generation when applying for their first credit card twice, with 27% saying they were rejected upon application.

Final Thoughts

While lower than its 2019 historical record, credit card debt is still overall at a very high point. On top of that, more than half of the Americans with active cards are currently unable to pay off their full balances each month.

Given the hikes in interest rates and the general economic situation we are experiencing, these numbers are likely to increase. However, there is a silver lining. In general, delinquency is at one of its lowest points since credit card debt reporting started.

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