Americans Who Didn’t Pay Cash Added $1,000 in Holiday Debt

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If you borrowed money to pay for holiday gifts this year, chances are you didn’t plan to do so. And for those Americans who did borrow this year, their average new debt came to $1,003, up 1.7% from new average debt of $986 for the 2015 holiday season.

About 65% of those surveyed by consumer education website MagnifyMoney did not intend to go into debt this year. The good news is that nearly three-quarters of borrowers plan to pay off the new debt in 4 months or less.

Why is that good news? Assuming a 16% interest rate, a principal balance of $1,003, and a minimum monthly payment of $25, it would take 58 months to pay off the balance plus an additional $442 in interest. Paying the balance off quickly minimizes the amount of interest a borrow has to pay.

About 60% of this year’s holiday debt was rung up on credit cards. Another 17% was charged on store cards and nearly 9% came from personal loans. Payday loans accounted for about 7% of holiday spending and more than 5% was funded by a home equity loan.

Millennials, ages 24 through 35, were most likely to have added debt this year, with 14.3% saying they borrowed. Seniors older than 65 were the least likely to have added debt this year, with just 7.6% saying they borrowed money to pay holiday bills.

Additional details of the survey are available at the MagnifyMoney website along with tips on how to get out of debt and what to consider before taking advantage of a balance transfer offer to a credit card with a low introductory rate.