Americans love their plastic. Indeed, an estimated 167 million U.S. adults own at least one credit card, and most own more than one, according to CreditCards.com.
There’s a dark underbelly to that reliance on plastic, and it’s called debt. The average U.S. household with debt carries $15,355 in credit card debt, according to NerdWallet. What’s more, credit card debt costs consumers an average of $2,630 per year in interest, assuming an average interest rate (APR) of 18%.
As convenient as credit cards can be for making purchases without cash changing hands, there’s a temptation to overuse them — to run up mounting balances that are beyond a person’s ability to pay from month to month. And the high interest rates attached to many cards mean those carryover balances tend to inflate fast, turning a minor debt issue into a major debt problem.
There are right times and wrong times to use plastic. Knowing the distinction will go a long way toward helping avoid the credit card debt issues that so many Americans face.