2021 Credit Card Debt Statistics
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Americans have an absolute mountain of credit card debt in 2021.
But exactly how much credit card debt do they have?
That’s one of the big questions we’ll answer on this page, which is devoted to tracking Americans’ credit card use each month. We update it regularly, looking not just at how much debt people have, but also how often they carry a balance month to month, how often they pay their credit card bills late and more.
In this post
- How much credit card debt do Americans have?
- What percentage of cardholders carry a balance?
- What’s the average interest rate on people’s credit cards? What about those who carry a balance?
- How many Americans are currently delinquent with their credit card payments?
How much credit card debt do Americans have?
That’s Americans’ total credit card balance, according to the latest consumer debt data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The latest Fed data shows that consumer credit card balances rose to $819 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020, up from $807 billion in the third quarter.
Even though balances rose from quarter to quarter, they are down significantly from the fourth quarter of 2019 when balances stood at $927 billion, the highest seen since the report began in 1999 and likely the highest in history.
Credit card debt in America is still high by historical standards, however. It is also light years beyond the $478 billion that we saw 21 years ago in the first quarter of 1999.
Card debt showed hockey-stick growth until the financial collapse in 2008, when balances fell from $866 billion back in the fourth quarter of 2008 to $660 billion in the first quarter of 2013. But, as you can see in the chart below, the hockey stick returned.
It is anyone’s guess as to how long the recovery will take, how far credit balances will fall during the downturn and — perhaps most important — how quickly consumers will recover once the outbreak subsides. However, it seems clear that historic decreases like the ones we saw in early 2020 are likely a thing of the past, barring a major resurgence in COVID-19.
What percentage of cardholders carry a balance?
Job No. 1 for anyone with a credit card is to pay that balance off in full at the end of each month. But we all know that life happens, and that means that it’s not always possible to pay off your credit cards each month. That’s especially true in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Unfortunately, most people with an active credit card account don’t always pay their bills in full. According to data from the American Bankers Association, 41% of credit card accounts carried a balance at some point in Q3 of 2020, 34% of accounts were active but didn’t carry a balance and 26% of accounts were dormant for the quarter.
The number of accounts that carried a balance fell 2 percentage points in the third quarter, while the percentage of those who did not revolve a balance increased by 1.5 percentage points.
What’s the average interest rate on people’s credit cards? What about those who carry a balance?
The Federal Reserve’s G.19 consumer credit report showed that the average APR for all current credit card accounts rose slightly, up to 14.65% in the fourth quarter of 2020. Meanwhile, APRs for cards that are accruing interest fell — down to 16.28% from 16.43% in the previous quarter.
If you’re planning to get a new credit card, your interest rate will likely be higher than any of those listed above. The latest LendingTree data on credit card APRs shows that the average APR with a new credit card offer is 19.34%, with the average card offering an APR range of 15.68% to 23.00%, with your rate varying based on your creditworthiness.
And also as the chart below shows, the rate you are offered can also vary widely based on the type of card for which you apply.
Of course, your best move is to make those interest rates a moot point by paying your card debt in full, but that’s often easier said than done.
How many Americans are currently delinquent with their credit card payments?
According to the most recent delinquency data from the Fed, the 30-day delinquency rate (or the number of folks who are currently at least 30 days late with their credit card payment) rose to 2.12% in the fourth quarter of 2020. That’s a small increase from Q3 but is still well below delinquency rates seen earlier in the year.