If you carry significant balances on your credit cards, you are not alone. A recent report from the financial website WalletHub claims that the average American family now has well over $8,000 in credit card debt. Combined, Americans owe over $1 trillion dollars to credit card companies, which is an amount greater than the gross domestic product of all but the 15 richest countries.
While Americans curtailed their credit card use noticeably after the economic collapse of 2007-2008, studies show that they have been steadily using them again. Beginning in 2011, consumers started racking up more credit card debt, a trend that has continued every year since.
WalletHub analyzed credit card debt trends from the past 20 years. The data showed that the average credit card debt for American households increased steadily from 1986 to the end of 2007, when it dropped substantially. However, since the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, the levels have increased again.
In fact, between 2015 and 2016, the average amount of credit card debt per household increased 6 percent from $7,893 to $8,733, which means the amounts are back up to the levels they were during the Great Recession. Furthermore, by the end of 2016, consumers had accumulated more than $1 trillion dollars in credit card debt, an increase of over 7 percent from the previous year and an overall annual net increase over 26 percent.
If you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with too much credit card debt, you have options. Financial experts and credit counselors advise to pay down what you owe as much as possible, making more than the minimum payment to keep your balances in check and the amount of interest you pay lower. However, not all consumers are able to do this financially. In those cases, consumers may do well to consult with an attorney experienced in consumer credit relief and bankruptcy. Such an attorney can analyze a client’s specific situation, offer advice regarding any available options and guide the client through the process.