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What is the Average Credit Card Debt in the U.S.?

Last Updated: January 24, 2024
3 min read

Key points about: average American credit card debt

  1. The average American had $5,733 in credit card debt in Q1 2023, according to data from TransUnion®.

  2. In the first quarter of 2023, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimated total credit card debt for all Americans was $986 billion.

  3. Alaska residents carry the highest credit card debt, while residents of Iowa have the lowest per person.

According to data compiled by TransUnion, the average credit card debt for Americans was an estimated $5,733 through the first quarter of 2023. This was an increase from the roughly $5,000 average credit card balance Americans had at the end of 2020, as reported in September 2021 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
But what does that number mean exactly? And if your household debt is near–or even above–the average credit card debt in the United States, what steps can you take to start paying it down?

Total credit card debt held by Americans

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, by the end of the first quarter in 2023, total credit card debt in the United States reached an estimated $986 billion, a sharp rise since falling during the pandemic.

In its September 2021 report, the CFPB estimated total credit card debt in American households reached $926 billion in 2019 before dipping to $811 billion in 2020, due to reduced pandemic spending and federal economic relief programs. Since then, total credit card debt in the U.S. has surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

Average credit card debt by state

Not all regions of the country are the same. According to data compiled by Experian®, residents of Alaska carried the highest average credit card debt at $6,787 in August 2022. Residents of Iowa carried the lowest at $4,609. Here are the 10 best and worst states for average credit card debt.

States with the highest average credit card debt

  • Alaska: $6,787
  • Connecticut: $6,516
  • New Jersey: $6,428
  • Maryland: $6,276
  • Virginia: $6,249
  • Texas: $6,194
  • Florida: $6,050
  • Georgia: $5,994
  • Colorado: $5,915
  • New York: $5,883

States with the lowest average credit card debt

  • Iowa: $4,609
  • Wisconsin: $4,628
  • Kentucky: $4,734
  • Mississippi: $4,741
  • Idaho: $4,821
  • West Virginia: $4,844
  • Indiana: $4,847
  • South Dakota: $4,876
  • Maine: $4,913
  • Oregon: $4,940

What counts as credit card debt?

Mortgages, auto loans, and student loans are not considered credit card debt, but some kinds of debt are counted as credit card debt even though they’re not attached to a credit card account.

For example, credit card debt may also include consumer finance accounts, which are loans provided to consumers on behalf of a company. Examples of consumer finance accounts include furniture store accounts and payday loans.

Tips for paying down credit card debt

The good news about credit card debt is that it’s possible to manage. By paying down some credit card debt, you could improve your credit score by lowering your credit utilization, and you’re more likely to save on interest charges. Here are some tips for managing your own credit card debt.

Set a goal. Is your goal to pay off one or more credit cards, or to get out of debt completely? Figure out what that goal is, and write it down, along with an achievable timeline for being successful.

Did you know?

If you’re looking to pay off multiple credit cards, you could try a balance transfer credit card. With a balance transfer card, you could consolidate debt from multiple cards to a single credit card with a low introductory APR. Your timeline would be to pay off the balance transfer before the intro period ends.

Stick to a budget. A budget is critical to helping you get out of debt. Make sure that your budget is realistic and takes into account your needs, as well as those of your partner or family.

Create a payment plan. To help you create a realistic plan for paying off your card or cards, utilize an online payoff calculator to help you visualize how much of a monthly payment you can afford, and when your payoff date will be if you chip away at your balance consistently. If you have multiple debts to repay–that carry different interest rates–focus on repaying the higher interest rate debt first, to reduce the total interest you’ll pay.

How to get help with credit card debt

If you struggle with personal finance and serious debt, it can be hard to make the minimum required payments and may  lead to poor credit. In that case, you may want to consider credit counseling to learn more about debt relief options, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

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