About 29 million people, or 43%, who have been carrying credit-card debt have had a balance for at least two years, according to a new study by CreditCards.com, raising concerns about Americans’ ability to pay down debt. The total includes 15 million people who have been in credit-card debt for at least five years.
The report referenced findings from the newly released 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances study and underscores the growing debt problem among Americans. The report also states that more people have credit-card debt than any other kind of debt, including mortgages. CreditCards.com said that is the first time it has happened in 18 years.
Older baby boomers, ages 63 to 71, are the most likely age group to carry a credit-card balance for at least two years. A total of 63% of older boomers fall into that category, followed by 57% of the so-called Silent Generation (ages 72 and above).
“Carrying credit-card debt is a slippery slope,” said Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, in a press release. “What may seem inconsequential at first can quickly grow into overwhelming debt. Bottom line: stick to your budget and only charge what you know you can pay off each month.”
More than one-in-four Americans (28%) admit to carrying a balance on their credit card from month to month. Middle-aged respondents are most likely to carry credit-card debt, including 36% of Gen Xers (ages 37 to 52) and 33% of younger baby boomers (ages 53 to 62).
Thirty-two percent of respondents say the most common reason for running up debt is just keeping up with day-to-day expenses, not splurging on major purchases. Fifty-one percent of younger millennials (ages 18 to 26) with credit-card debt cited real-life expenses for this reason, followed by older millennials (ages 27 to 36) and Gen Xers, each at 35%.
Additional reasons Americans incurred credit-card debt include retail purchases (16%), paying medical bills (12%), home repairs (10%), vacation expenses (10%) and car repairs (7%).
People who make more money, have a higher education and work full time are more likely to carry credit-card debt than lower income, less educated and jobless Americans.
The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, which interviewed a nationally representative sample of 2,005 adults living in the United States from August 17 to 20 and September 7 to 10.