As Americans Become More Reliant on Credit Cards, Here’s How To Avoid High Balances

Winter holidays shopping, expensive time of the year.
Vitalii Petrushenko / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Credit card debt in the U.S is piling up. According to a recent report from TransUnion, bank card balances reached a record high of $866 billion in the third quarter of 2022, accounting for a year-over-year increase of 19%. The holidays certainly didn’t help matters. A LendingTree report found that 35% of Americans took on holiday debt. The amount of debt incurred rose 24% over 2021, averaging $1,549.

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How can Americans best navigate this mountain of credit card debt? LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz recommends getting a 0% balance transfer credit card. In a LendingTree blog post detailing the survey results, Schulz wrote, “It may seem weird to fight card debt by getting a new card, but balance transfer cards can be an absolute godsend for debtors.”

By getting a 0% balance transfer credit card, you can transfer higher-interest credit card balances without incurring interest charges during the promotional period, which can last up to 21 months, according to LendingTree. During that time, you can focus on making one monthly payment and paying down the debt faster and more easily.

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However, it’s essential to do your homework and research cards. 

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“You’ll need good credit to get one, and there are fees, deadlines and restrictions to know about,” Schulz wrote, “but they can be an amazing deal.”

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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