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Federal statistics show rising household credit card debt

The effects of carrying large amounts of credit card debt can reach far beyond the expenses of singificant interest charges or negative consequences on a person's credit score. Financial strain can be incredibly taxing and stressful for individuals and families, especially when creditor harassment begins or intensifies.

According to statistics maintained by the Federal Reserve, the average amount of debt among U.S. households currently reaches over $7,200. This number includes the debt figures of all households, including those with no debt at all. When the statistics are adjusted to look only at households with credit card debt, the average amount of debt owed to credit card companies increases to over $15,500. Although the average credit card debt is much lower than the average mortgage debt of $153,500, the average credit card debt for Americans is equal to nearly half the average student loan debt of $32,656.

Credit cards are the third ranked source of Americans' debt, coming behind only mortgages and student loan debt. In the last year, from July 2013 to July 2014, total credit card debt in the United States increased by over 3 percent. The average credit card debt carried by households also increased by nearly 2.5 percent. Overall, these statistics indicate that credit card is not dramatically increasing but the exact meaning of the statistics is unclear. It could be that increased credit card debt indicates higher spending, which helps boost the economy, or that households continue to struggle financially and are using their credit card bills to cover monthly expenses.

Source: Nerd Wallet, "American Household Credit Card Debt Statistics: 2014," accessed Sept. 28, 2014

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