Credit card debt has now reached pre-recession levels

Americans just can’t seem to stop accumulating credit card debt.
Americans just can’t seem to stop accumulating credit card debt.

A new report from WalletHub proves that debt is as American as apple pie.

According to their data, Americans added $92.2 billion in credit card debt last year, the most since 2007, before the Great Recession.

When you include all outstanding balances, the Federal Reserve estimates that Americans owe more than $1 trillion in credit card debt.

So what’s the deal? In the fourth quarter of 2017, Americans added $67.6 billion in credit card debt, which was the highest quarterly accumulation in 30 years. Looking back over the past couple of years, you can also see a speedy incline in debt, with debt climbing from $43 billion in 2015 to $87 billion 2016. This growing burden could be attributed to historically low charge-off rates, or the percentage of customers whose unpaid balances cannot be collected. During the Great Recession, charge-off rates were high and banks tightened their lending guidelines, restricting who could get credit.

Average credit card debt per household.
Average credit card debt per household.

Now, banks are extending more credit to consumers with below-average credit scores. This could be why we’ve seen a slight bump in credit-card delinquency rates, up to 7.5% from 7% the previous year. While this is nowhere near the 15% delinquency rate peak during the financial crisis, it is a red flag for people to get serious about tackling their debt.

In the last quarter of 2017, the average credit card debt per household was $8,600, up 6% from Q4 of 2016. According to WalletHub’s 2018 credit card study, 62.3% say their credit card debt partly stems from health care expenses. This is no surprise, seeing as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported that Americans paid $338 billion in out-of-pocket medical expenses like deductibles, copays, and other spending in 2015.

Brittany is reporter at Yahoo Finance.

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