A new study shows credit card debt is surging and borrowers are barely paying it down.

2 minute read

Proof of the financial fallout from the past several years is starting to show in a startling way.

Credit card debt and interest rates are both heading to record-high numbers – and it’s bad news for everyday Americans.

Newly released research from personal finance site WalletHub reveals credit card holders paid down more than $13 billion in the first three months of the year. Sounds all well and good? It’s not. That’s a 76 percent decrease in the amount paid last year.

“The latest credit card debt statistics tell us that consumers have not only returned to pre-pandemic spending habits, but are also making up for reduced spending during Covid,” says Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “After cutting back during the height of the pandemic, U.S. consumers added $86 billion in new credit card debt during 2021, resuming a pattern of unsustainable spending that had become the norm before the pandemic.”

It’s a complete 180-degree turn in the wrong direction from how most Americans were budgeting their finances in 2020. Here’s a brief breakdown of what’s led them here…

A trifecta of financial trouble

The average credit card balance is currently $8,425, according to WalletHub’s survey.

Last October, Debt.com partnered with Florida Atlantic University to conduct a scientific survey by polling more than 1,000 Americans on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected their finances. Most respondents (39 percent) said they carry up to $7,500 in credit card debt. Only 19 percent reported they carried more than $8,000 at the time.

WalletHub’s data shows the average credit card balance has increased by nearly 12 percent from exactly one year ago. So what’s the cause? It’s not one, but this trifecta that has walloped the bank accounts of every working American…

  • Soaring gas prices
  • Record-high inflation
  • Rising interest rates from the Federal Reserve

“This shouldn’t be much of a surprise,” Gonzalez said, “considering the increased prices consumers are being confronted with and their increased appetite to spend.”

Find out: Financial Stress is at an Eight-Year High – and Inflation is the Top Concern

Not enough to feed the hunger

Debt.com has previously reported inflation has increased by 7 percent while wages went up by 4 percent. In a weird way, it’s like taking a pay cut.

The current economic outlook is freaking most people out. Here’s what they told WalletHub in its study…

  • 72 million Americans are upset about the Fed raising interest rates
  • 8 in 10 Americans “think we’re headed for a recession”
  • 89 percent of survey respondents are worried about inflation

That leaves 11 percent who didn’t say rising inflation is a concern. Gonzalez feels they’re either ignorant of the problem or trying to appear calm.

“Everyone else is probably either putting on a brave face or not paying attention,” she said. “Even government officials who previously called inflation merely ‘transitory’ are now recognizing we have a bigger problem on our hands.”

How long that problem will last is still undetermined. Those struggling during this troubled time can learn how to pay off credit card debt. A free debt analysis is also always just a phone call away at

Find out: Here’s What Credit Cards Have in Common with Drugs and Alcohol

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About the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Joe Pye started writing about debt and personal finance five years ago while attending Florida Atlantic University, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the student-run newspaper, the University Press. Before graduating with a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism, Pye placed as a finalist for the Mark of Excellence award by the Society of Professional Journalists Region 3 for feature writing and in-depth reporting. In 2021, Pye earned First Place in the Green Eyeshade awards for "Best Blog" for his side-project BrowardBeer.com. Since taking a full-time position as associate editor at Debt.com in 2018, Pye has become a certified debt management professional who's applied what he's learned to his personal life by paying down more than $22,000 worth of combined credit card, student loan, auto and tax debt in less than two years.

Published by Debt.com, LLC