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Credit Card Stress Hits Highest Level in 3 Years


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Over the past three years, more and more Americans are feeling stress after using their credit cards – and it’s driving them deeper into debt.

To support Mental Health Awareness Month, Debt.com has surveyed Americans on mental health and money each May for the past three years. In 2022, 1 in 5 reported feeling stressed after using credit cards. Now it’s up to nearly 4 in 10.

Key findings

  • There’s been a 17% jump over the past three years in those who feel stress after using credit cards. This year, Gen Z (46%) is most likely to report feeling stress from credit card use, with Millennials not far behind (42%).
  • Nearly half (47%) of survey respondents say they take on more debt when feeling stressed. That includes 67% of Gen X, 40% of Millennials, and 1 in 3 (37%) of Gen Z.
  • Half (51%) feel stressed when reviewing their credit card bills. Of those, 3 in 5 (61%) are Gen Xers, 1 in 2 (52%), 44% of Gen Z, and 1 in 4 (28%) of Baby Boomers.
  • 1 in 4 (26%) respondents say they “argue with their significant other over credit card spending.”  More than 4 in 10 (45%) are Gen Xers, 16% are Millennials, 16% are from Gen Z, and only 7% are Baby Boomers.
  • 3 in 4 (76%) say “the convenience of credit cards can negatively impact mental health.” That includes 87% of Gen X, 79% of Millennials, 75% of Gen Z, and 51% of Baby Boomers.
  • 1 in 4 say they “impulsively make purchases they later regret” on a weekly basis. That’s mostly Gen X (44%), with 18% Millennials, 17% of Gen Z, and 4% of Baby Boomers.
  • More than 1 in 4 (28%) respondents have gone at least $10,000 in credit card debt because they “felt down or stressed out.” More than 4 in 10 (47%) are Gen Xers, 19% Millennials, 11% of Gen Z, and 8% of Baby Boomers.
Half of Americans say they take on more debt when feeling stressed.
Half of Americans feel stressed when reviewing credit card bills.
1 in 4 Americans have charged $1,000 to $5,000 in credit card debt while feeling down or stressed out.
1 in 4 Americans argue with their significant other over their credit card spending.
Nearly 3 in 5 Americans avoid looking at their credit card bills because "it's too painful."
Gen X feels the most stressed when reviewing credit card bills.
Gen X is the most likely generation to argue with their significant other about credit card spending.
3 in 4 Gen Xer say they avoid looking at credit cards bills because "it's too painful."
Full survey results

Do you think the convenience of credit cards can negatively impact mental health?
Yes76.14%
No23.86
How do you feel after using your credit card(s)?
Content39.87%
Stressed37.45%
Guilty17.20%
Sad2.79%
Embarrassed 2.40%
Are you more or less likely to take on more debt when feeling stressed?
Very likely28.53%
Likely18.25%
Somewhat likely16.81%
Neither likely nor unlikely12.97%
Somewhat unlikely5.96%
Unlikely9.13%
Very unlikely8.36%
How do you feel while reviewing your credit card bills?
Stressed50.91%
Sad8.36%
Hopeless9.51%
Loss of sleep4.03%
Loss of appetite2.69%
Lower self-esteem2.79%
None of the above 21.71%
How does credit card debt affect you socially?
My significant other and I argue over my credit card spending25.55%
I avoid dating5.96%
I hide my credit card spending from my significant other 10.47%
I avoid going out with my friends or family 10.47%
I avoid talking about money or my future plans14.70%
My credit card debt doesn’t affect my social life 32.85%
Do you avoid looking at your credit card bill because it’s too painful to do so?
Yes58.21%
No41.88%
Have you missed a credit card payment because you couldn’t bring yourself to look at the balance?
Yes44.96%
No55.04%
Have you ever applied for new credit cards because you were sad or stressed?
Yes46.30%
No53.70%
How often do you impulsively buy items or services with your credit card that you regret later?
Once a week25.94%
Monthly24.78%
Few times a year31.80%
Never17.48%
How much debt have you incurred from impulsive shopping because you were feeling down or stressed out?
$1-$1,00040.54%
$1,000-$5,00022.86%
$5,000-$10,0009.51%
$10,000-$15,00011.72%
$15,000-$20,0009.70%
More than $20,0005.67%
2023 survey results, click here

How do you feel after using your credit card(s)? Percentage of respondents
Content 44.55%
Stressed 33.93%
Guilty 15.73%
Sad 2.94%
Embarrassed 2.84%

How do your credit card bills affect you? Percentage of respondents
Makes me feel stressed 42.65%
Makes me feel sad 6.92%
Makes me feel hopeless 8.15%
Loss of sleep 2.75%
Loss of appetite 0.95%
Lower self-esteem 2.56%
None of the above 36.02%

How does credit card debt affect you socially? Percentage of respondents
My significant other and I argue over my credit card spending 11.28%
I avoid dating 4.74%
I hide my credit card spending from my significant other 11.28%
I avoid going out with friends or family 9.57%
I avoid talking about money or my future plans (buying a home, starting a family, moving, etc.) 11.47%
My credit card debt doesn’t affect my social life 51.66%

Do you avoid looking at your credit card bill because it is too painful to do so? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 37.44% 62.56%

Have you missed a credit card payment because you just couldn’t bring yourself to look at the balance? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 22.18% 77.82%

Have you ever applied for new credit cards because you were sad or stressed? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 25.59% 74.41%


How often do you impulsively buy items or services with your credit card that you later regret? Percentage of respondents
Once a week 11.85%
Monthly 19.35%
Few times a year 37.54%
Never 31.09%

How much debt have you incurred from impulse shopping because you were feeling down or stressed out? Percentage of respondents
$1-$1,000 63.70%
$1,000-$5,000 16.11%
$5,000-$10,000 9.95%
$10,000-$15,000 4.55%
$15,000-$20,000 2.37%
More than $20,000 3.32%

Do you think the convenience of credit cards can negatively impact mental health? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 78.39% 21.61%

Click here for full 2022 survey results

Debt.com polled more than 1,000 Americans on their mental health and money. Two-thirds admit to impulsively using their credit cards on purchases they later regret.

To support Mental Health Awareness Month, Debt.com asked Americans how their money affects them psychologically. Turns out, simply swiping a card can take a load off in the moment but lead to stress later on.

Nearly 3 in 4 survey respondents say the convenience of credit cards can negatively impact mental health. More than a third feel sad or guilty after using their cards, for 1 in 4 that means charging up to $5,000 in credit card debt when feeling stressed or sad.

“The convenience of credit cards cuts both ways,” says Don Silvestri, president of Debt.com. “More than ever, you don’t even need the piece of plastic to run up huge bills. Time was, ’shopping therapy’ required actually going to a store. Now you can do that from your phone in bed.”

The survey’s key findings:

  • Over 30% says they avoid looking at their credit card bills because it’s too painful.
  • Over 21% of people feel stressed after using credit cards and an additional 20% feel guilty.
  • Over 45% of those who avoid looking at their statements, have missed a credit card payment because they couldn’t bring themselves to look at the statement balance.
  • Nearly 20% applied for new credit because they were sad or stressed.

“When you incur debts while you’re feeling terrible, it never makes you feel better,” Silvestri says. “It not only affects your mental health, but it can spread to your loved ones.”

Find the full survey results below…

Nearly 3 in 4 say the convenience of credit cards can negatively impact mental health

1 in 4 have taken on $1,000 to $5,000 of debt due to impulse shopping while feeling down

Almost 4 in 10 say their credit cards make them feel stressed

1 in 5 avoid conversations about future money plans like buying a home

How do you feel after using your credit card(s)? Percentage of respondents
Content 53.20%
Stressed 21.39%
Guilty 19.01%
Sad 5.64%
Embarrassed 0.76%

How do your credit card bills affect you? Percentage of respondents
Makes me feel stressed 38.59%
Makes me feel sad 6.78%
Makes me feel hopeless 6.40%
Loss of sleep 2.58%
Loss of appetite 0.86%
Lower self-esteem 2.01%
None of the above 42.79%

How does credit card debt affect you socially? Percentage of respondents
My significant other and I argue over my credit card spending 3.15%
I avoid dating 5.16%
I hide my credit card spending from my significant other 5.83%
I avoid going out with friends or family 10.32%
I avoid talking about money or my future plans (buying a home, starting a family, moving, etc.) 19.01%
My credit card debt doesn’t affect my social life 56.54%

Do you avoid looking at your credit card bill because it is too painful to do so? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 32.38% 67.62%

Have you missed a credit card payment because you just couldn’t bring yourself to look at the balance? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 46.31% 53.69%

Have you ever applied for new credit cards because you were sad or stressed? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 19.10% 80.90%


How often do you impulsively buy items or services with your credit card that you later regret? Percentage of respondents
Once a week 8.40%
Monthly 18.15%
Few times a year 39.73%
Never 33.72%

How much debt have you incurred from impulse shopping because you were feeling down or stressed out? Percentage of respondents
$1-$1,000 51.44%
$1,000-$5,000 24.93%
$5,000-$10,000 13.26%
$10,000-$15,000 4.18%
$15,000-$20,000 2.88%
More than $20,000 3.31%

Do you think the convenience of credit cards can negatively impact mental health? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 74.40% 25.60%

Methodology: Debt.com surveyed more than 1,000 Americans and asked nine questions about their credit card spending affects their mental health. People responded from all 50 states and Washington, DC and were aged 18 and above. Responses were collected through SurveyMonkey. Percentages were rounded up to the nearest whole number and might not total 100 percent.

Methodology: Debt.com surveyed more than 1,000 Americans and asked 10 questions about their credit card spending affects their mental health. People responded from all 50 states and Washington, DC and were aged 18 and above. Responses were collected through SurveyMonkey. Percentages were rounded up to the nearest whole number and might not total 100 percent. The survey was conducted on May 10, 2024.

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