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Here's how Credit Card Debt in the US Climbed to Record High Levels in 2023

The end of pandemic-related relief and the stop to the moratorium on student loans has led to record credit card debts, as per experts.
Cover Image Source: Pexels |
Cover Image Source: Pexels |

Financial stress is on the rise along with the interest rates, as the end of pandemic-related relief and the stop to the moratorium on student loans has led to record credit card debts, as per experts. In the last quarter of 2023, Americans reportedly held $1.13 trillion on their credit cards, which is around a 4.6 percent increase as compared to the third quarter of 2023. This is perhaps the highest card balance seen since 2003, as per the state’s Federal Reserve data.

RDNE Stock project | pexels
RDNE Stock project | pixels

The Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit also saw that the total household debt increased by $212 billion in the fourth quarter, which brought the total to $17.5 trillion. While the central bank is indicating cutting interest rates later this year, benchmark borrowing costs remain at a 22-year high, falling between 5.25 percent and 5.5 percent. 

Auto loan balances also increased in the fourth quarter by $12 billion to $1.61 trillion. The aggregate delinquency rates are also at their all-time high.


In addition to that, the average interest rate on a given credit card is around 21.5% which is also the highest since the Federal Reserve started tracking rates in 1994. As per the CEO of VantageScore, some significant signs of stress are starting to show despite consumers being in a good financial state, per U.S. News & World Report.

There are a few steps that you can take to reduce your financial stress.

First of all, it's best to ask your credit card company to lower your interest rates. Most credit card companies offer promotional rates and ways to help you pay the debt. These promotional offers can help debt from accumulating in the long term. It's important to note that you have to pay a balance transfer fee to pay the balance off.

It's also a good idea to pay off the higher-interest debt first, which is called the avalanche approach. This is the best way forward, as higher debt accumulates more quickly.

Another effective way to manage debt is to try the snowball approach which means paying the small debt first which boosts the morale and motivates you to keep paying off the debt.


Even though inflation is cooling down, the cost of many goods and services is still at its all-time high. According to AP News, the median rent of the priority with up to two bedrooms is up from $1,424 at the end of 2020 to $1,713 at the end of last year, which means that most of the prices are still rising. 

According to Forbes, around 28% of card users say they find it difficult to pay even the minimum payments on their credit cards, and around 14% said that they missed credit card payments altogether, in 2023.

Research found that half of US consumers have been using a new payment method in the past year and 16% switched to something different. Only 13% of the consumers said that credit cards were the new method that they tried. Research also found that digital wallets are on the rise and around 30% of the residents said that they were shifting to digital wallets.