Americans’ credit card debt is on track to top $1 trillion by the end of this year. The average household debt currently sits at around $7,800 and needs only to rise another $600 or so to become unsustainable, according to a recent WalletHub study.
Paying off $7,800 in credit card debt by making only the minimum monthly payment would take 26 years, according to Bruce McClary of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Stretching out the payments for the full 26 years means the borrower would be paying $9,229 in interest payments over the repayment period.
In an online poll conducted last month, the NFCC asked the following question: “At this point, I feel most unsure/worried about … ,” and offered respondents five choices. Here are the results:
- Having enough savings for emergencies and retirement (13%)
- Student loan debt (10%)
- Credit card debt (69%)
- Affordable housing (7%)
- Nothing, I have no financial worries (1%)
McClary suggests that if a consumer is saddled with debt on multiple cards, it might be wise to consolidate the balances on one lower rate card to help save money and allow for a more affordable monthly payment.
Another possibility for homeowners is taking out a home equity loan, but that requires that you put your house up as collateral. If you keep and use the credit cards you paid off with the loan you run an additional risk of piling on more debt.
What can you do with the money you save by paying off the debt? Many Americans have increased their savings, and that might be a good option for most of us.