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Which U.S. Households Have Credit Card Debt?
FRB of St. Louis
2024.05.23
In this blog post, we examine the income differences between households with credit card debt and those without such debt using the 2022 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). Motivated by growing delinquencies and interest rates on U.S. credit card debt, we sought to discern which households face this financial burden. Our analysis suggests that households with credit card debt tend to concentrate in the middle of the income distribution. However, lower-income households have the highest ratio of credit card debt relative to monthly income.
The Federal Reserve conducts the SCF every three years on a cross-sectional sample of U.S. households, surveying them about their demographics and balance sheet, income and other financial characteristics. We split respondents to the latest SCF into two groups: one consisting of households with credit card debt and another consisting of households with no credit card debt. We defined households with credit card debt as those that reported nonzero credit card balances. This means that they did not pay the full amount owed on their card or cards at the end of the month, and so carried forward a balance.
According to the SCF data, 51% of American households held credit card debt in 2022, and while credit card debt accounted for only about 7% of overall household debt, its interest rates tend to be higher than those of other forms of consumer debt, making it relatively expensive.