How Much Credit Card Debt Does the Average 40-Something Have?

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Although more Americans curbed discretionary purchases over the pandemic — and have tried to remain thrifty during this current stretch of high inflation — many consumers have relied on their credit cards to keep up with ever-surging prices in the marketplace.

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As CNBC reports, first quarter figures from the New York Federal Reserve Bank show that credit card balances increased year-over-year and reached $841 billion. While these were slightly less than heightened 2021 Christmas season numbers, Fed researchers are predicting credit card balances to increase throughout 2022.

“There’s a good chance that Americans’ total credit card balances will soon reach a new record high, marking a sharp reversal from the precipitous drop that occurred in 2020 and early 2021,” claimed analyst Ted Rossman.

What Age Group Holds the Most Credit Card Debt?

According to The Motley Fool, 2021 Personal Capital data shows that its members have an average credit card balance of $6,100 and that those in their forties have the highest average balance: $9,379. Younger 20-somethings and 30-somethings have average credit card balances of $3,511 and $6,568, respectively.

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These 40-somethings have been working long enough to be earning higher salaries and holding more debt than those younger (who likely have less experience) and those older (who are likely nearing retirement). Higher earning typically equals higher spending, lending some logic to this equation.

“The amount of credit card debt that you can comfortably carry depends on your income and how many other debts you’re carrying at the same time,” Gary Herman, president of Consolidated Credit, said in a company blog post. “With that in mind, it makes sense that people in the prime of their financial lives have the most debt and that average balances increase then decrease over time.”

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This data jives with similar age-to-debt comparisons. CNBC’s “Select” recently broke down the average credit card debt per generation — according to Experian’s latest data — noting that Generation X members (born between 1965 and 1979/80) had the highest average credit card debt at $7,155, followed by baby boomers (1946-1964, $6,043); then millennials (1981-1994/96, $4,322); the Silent Generation (1928-1945, $3,177) and finally Generation Z (1997-2012, $1,963).

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Regardless of the data set, it appears that 40-somethings are definitely shouldering more credit card debt than their peers.

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.
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