Americans Unaware of their Credit Card Debt


Consumers are largely unaware of their credit card debt and its impact, with 21% not knowing if they have debt and 30% unaware of how much credit card interest they pay each month, according to U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in rankings and consumer advice.

In its most recent survey, U.S. News found that of consumers who are in credit card debt, 24% owe more than $10,001. Most consumers carry a balance on one (37%) or two (27%) credit cards, with 12% of respondents carrying debt on five or more cards.

“When I was young, I fell into a sea of credit card debt because I was uneducated about personal finance and unaware of the high interest rates associated with credit cards,” said Beverly Harzog, best-selling author, credit card expert and consumer finance analyst at U.S. News. “Luckily, there are tricks like balance transfers that allow consumers to pay off their debt while paying zero interest for a year or more. If you qualify, a balance transfer credit card can save you money and help you get back on track financially.”

Additional findings from the U.S. News & World Report survey:

  • A tale of two extremes: Consumers have either little or extreme amounts of credit card debt. Sixty percent of consumers do not have any credit card debt. Of those who do, 25% reported revolving credit card debt ranging from $1 to $2,000, while 24% reported more than $10,001 in credit card debt. What’s more, 13% say credit card debt causes them to struggle to make ends meet, and 15% say their debt regularly limits their spending.
  • People think they can easily manage multiple cards. Forty-nine percent of consumers do not find it difficult to manage multiple monthly payments. Only about 14% say it’s moderately or very difficult.
  • Generally, consumers haven’t taken advantage of balance transfers. Almost half of respondents surveyed (48%) said they have never used a balance transfer offer. But 17% saved money on interest payments, and 12% paid off their balance before the offer ended.
  • Consumers are naive when it comes to potential fees. Almost half of respondents (45%) didn’t know whether their credit card charged a balance transfer fee.

U.S. News conducted the Balance Transfer Survey through Google Surveys. From May 15 to 18, the survey asked 10 questions related to credit card debt and balance transfers and sampled 1,001 people in the general American population who visit desktop and mobile sites where Google conducts surveys.

In addition to the survey, U.S. News publishes in-depth credit card guides to help consumers understand how to make credit cards work in their favor. Consumers can find more personal finance advice on balance transfersmaximizing rewards and much more.

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