by Bill Hardekopf
A troubling survey shows that older Americans are now carrying more credit
card debt than younger people, mainly due to job loss and medical bills, not
because of a lack of financial responsibility.
The study looked at 997 middle-income households that were carrying credit
card debt for at least three months. Of the respondents, households age 50 and
older had an average credit card balance of $8,278 compared to an average debt
of $6,258 for households under age 50.
The Demos' 2012 National Survey on Credit Card Debt of Low- and
Middle-Income Households was done on behalf of AARP. The survey also
- Half of the older households were carrying medical expenses, such as prescription drugs and dental expenses, on their credit card accounts.
- 34% of the older households were using their credit cards to pay for
basic living expenses, such as groceries, utilities, and housing costs.
- Job loss was a factor in running up credit card debt in nearly 25% of the
- But the older households have a much bigger heart than the younger
households: 23% have taken on credit card debt to help other family members
versus 11% of the younger households.
The study can be found at www.demos.org/publication/red-older-americans-and-credit-card-debt
Bill Hardekopf is CEO of LowCards.com, a site that simplifies the confusion
of shopping for credit cards. It is a free, independent website that helps
consumers easily compare credit cards in a variety of categories such as lowest
rates, rewards, rebates, balance transfers and lowest introductory rates. It
also gives an unbiased ranking and review for each card.