Consumer Payment Card News

Debt Mystery

An association representing U.S. bankers says it is a “myth” that Americans are “up to their eyeballs” in credit card debt, claiming that American households only carry about $200 billion in balances, despite government figures of more than $900 billion and industry data showing nearly $850 billion. Where is the missing $700 billion? The American Bankers Association referenced a nearly four year old Government Accountability Office study that showed the median credit card balance among families carrying a balance was $2,200 in 2004, meaning that 50% of families with credit card debt owe more than $2,200, while 50% owe less than $2,200. According to an online poll of more than 55,000 consumers, conducted earlier this year by and released in May, the median amount of credit card debt carried by Americans is about $6,600 while the mean (or average) credit card debt load is nearly $9,900. Based on industry figures, and discounting balances paid-off in full each month and commercial credit card debt, Americans were revolving about $672 billion on all credit cards at the end of last year. Furthermore, the latest revolving credit figures released by the Federal Reserve show Americans owed $920 billion in September, which includes lines of credit attached to checking accounts. The “myth” is that Bankers are “up to their eyeballs” in current facts.


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