The average credit card debt in the U.S. has risen since the start of the pandemic, but not everyone’s been affected equally. Here’s how much credit card debt we’re carrying on average across the population — from college students in California to baby boomers in Florida.

The total credit card debt in the U.S. hit $800 billion in 2021. $800 billion… as in, $800,000,000,000. That’s a lot of zeros!

When you break everything down, the average U.S. consumer has about $90,460 in total household debt. (This includes all types of revolving debt and consumer credit, including credit cards, mortgage debt, student loan debt, auto loan debt, medical debt, and more).

U.S. credit card debt averages about $5,525 per person. But how does this number shift based on age, geographic location, income, and race? Let’s take a look at that…

Average credit card debt in America: key findings

Here are some quick credit card debt statistics:

  • Average credit card debt in the U.S.: $5,525
  • Average number of credit cards per person: 3
  • Average credit score: 695
  • Average credit card debt by generation:
    • Gen Z: $2,312 (the lowest of any generation)
    • Millennials: $4,569
    • Gen X: $7,236 (the highest of any generation)
    • Baby boomers: $6,230
    • Silent generation: $3,821
  • Average credit card debt for college students: over $1,000
  • State with the highest credit card balance: Alaska ($7,089)
  • State with the lowest credit card balance: Wisconsin ($4,587)
  • Average delinquency rate for the U.S.: 57% (an all-time low)

Average credit card debt by state

U.S. consumers in Alaska have the highest average credit card balance ($7,089), according to Experian’s 2021 State of Credit Report. Following closely behind is Washington, D.C., Connecticut, Hawaii, and Virginia (most of which are areas with a high cost of living).

Here’s how the averages break down for the five states with the highest average credit card balance:

5 states with the highest average credit card balance

StateAverage credit card debt
Alaska$7,089
Washington, D.C.$6,367
Connecticut$6,237
Hawaii$6,197
Virginia$6,189

Source: Experian 2021 State of Credit Report

The chart below highlights the five states with the lowest average credit card balance. Wisconsin is at the top, followed by Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana, and Mississippi (which all have a relatively low cost of living):

5 states with the lowest average credit card balance

StateAverage credit card balance
Wisconsin$4,587
Iowa$4,587
Kentucky$4,772
Indiana$4,796
Mississippi$4,819

Source: Experian 2021 State of Credit Report

Average credit card debt for Millennials by state

The average Millennial has $4,569 in credit card debt, makes about $60,089 a year, and has a credit score of 687 , according to an Experian study.

The numbers vary widely from state to state, though. Millennials in Mississippi have the lowest credit card balances (a good thing), but they also have the lowest income and the lowest FICO credit score (bad things).

On the contrary, Millennials in Washington, D.C. have the second-highest credit card balance of any other state (a bad thing), but they also have the highest income and the highest credit score (both good things).

The moral of the story? A high income doesn’t always equal less debt. Factors like cost of living also come into play.

This table breaks down the average credit card debt for Millennials by state. Where do you fall on the list?

StateAverage U.S. household debtAverage incomeAverage FICO credit score
Mississippi$3,724$44,128644
Kentucky$3,826$49,259667
Vermont$3,843$60,396706
Wisconsin$3,920$57,360703
Indiana$3,959$54,625678
Michigan$3,975$54,864685
Iowa$3,985$56,457697
Arkansas$3,990$49,079658
Idaho$4,003$50,240694
Alabama$4,017$48,133653
Maine$4,038$55,634691
Oregon$4,090$58,544703
New Mexico$4,152$48,161664
Ohio$4,154$55,767682
Missouri$4,192$54,120677
West Virginia$4,213$46,343659
Louisiana$4,230$53,281658
South Dakota$4,232$62,446704
Utah$4,236$53,539707
Minnesota$4,243$64,674716
Tennessee$4,254$53,340670
North Carolina$4,302$52,568676
South Carolina$4,352$49,737656
Pennsylvania$4,353$63,276693
Oklahoma$4,355$51,564660
Arizona$4,394$50,373676
Nebraska$4,394$61,289703
Massachusetts$4,396$81,995710
Montana$4,410$55,533696
Delaware$4,441$57,504678
Kansas$4,450$58,380690
New Hampshire$4,483$68,126703
Illinois$4,568$67,243692
Wyoming$4,571$63,589689
Georgia$4,573$54,442662
California$4,578$74,304697
Rhode Island$4,581$61,624694
Washington$4,582$70,441710
North Dakota$4,712$65,914706
Nevada$4,725$55,577670
Maryland$4,777$70,002690
New York$4,786$78,404701
Colorado$4,841$66,679702
Texas$4,885$57,794667
Florida$4,888$58,441671
Hawaii$4,948$60,807704
Connecticut$4,975$81,848698
Virginia$4,999$63,969694
New Jersey$5,034$77,193702
Washington D.C.$5,118$90,043715
Alaska$5,388$65,501691

Source: Experian

Average credit card debt by income

The higher your income, the higher your credit card balance is likely to be. But that doesn’t mean your debt-to-income ratio is higher.

For U.S. households in the lowest income percentile, their credit card debt makes up 24%  of their annual take-home pay — almost one-fourth! But for those in the top percentile range, their credit card debt makes up only 3% of their total income.

Income percentileAverage annual incomeAverage credit card debt
Less than 20$15,750$3,830
20-39.9$35,650$4,650
40-59.9$58,950$4,910
60-79.9$96,790$6,990
80-89.9$153,540$9,780
90-100$494,640$12,600

Source: Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances

Average credit card debt for college students

Nearly half of college students (48%) have a credit card, according to a recent AIG Retirement Services and EVERFI survey. This number is up from 40% a year ago.

Of those, 40% have more than $1,000 in credit card debt and 14% have more than $5,000. Almost two in five don’t expect to be able to pay their balance in full this month.

Behind on bills? Here’s how to catch up.

Average credit card debt by generation

Gen Zers have the lowest credit card balance of any other generation ($2,312), but they’re also just starting to enter early adulthood. Their credit scores are lower and their credit utilization rate is higher, but this is typical for most young adults who are just starting out.

The silent generation (those born between 1928 and 1945) have the best credit overall — their average score is around 730. But, hey! They’ve been in the credit game much longer than anyone else. They’ve also managed to keep their balance low ($3,821) although not quite as low as Gen Z.

GenerationAverage credit card balanceAverage credit scoreAverage credit utilization rateAverage number of credit cards
Gen Z$2,312660.531.11.7
Millennial$4,569667.430.22.7
Gen X$7,236685.229.73.3
Boomer$6,230724.221.43.4
Silent$3,821729.912.62.7

Source: Experian’s State of Credit 2021

Average credit card debt by race

Individuals who identify as white or non-Hispanic/non-Latinx have the highest credit card balance, with their average debt being $6,940. Those who identify as Black or African American have the lowest debt balance at $3,940.

Individuals in the “Other” category consist of Asian Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and other people who identify as multi-racial.

RaceAverage credit card debt
White, non-Hispanic/non-Latinx$6,940
Black or African American, non-Hispanic/non-Latinx$3,940
Hispanic or Latinx$5,510
Other$6,320

Source: Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances

Credit card debt during the pandemic

42% of adults have increased their credit card balances since the coronavirus pandemic started in March 2020, according to a recent Bankrate poll. Of those who increased their balance, 47% said it was a direct result of the pandemic.

Millennials were the most likely to say they increased their balance due to COVID. They either lost jobs or had a reduction in income that forced them to rely on credit to make ends meet.

Average credit card delinquency rates

The average 30-day credit card delinquency rate is 1.57% in the U.S. — down from 2.02% this time last year, according to the latest Federal Reserve data.

What does this mean in simple terms? It’s good news: only 1.57% of credit card holders are at least 30 days late on their payment.

This is the lowest delinquency rate on record since the Federal Reserve started tracking it in 1991 (back when it was 5.26%!). In all, this means that despite the pandemic, consumers are doing a pretty good job making on-time payments.

How to get out of credit card debt

Carrying a large credit card balance month to month can be damaging to your credit score and to your overall financial health. And with average APRs hovering around 16%, it can be really difficult to dig yourself out once that interest rate snowball gets rollin’.

If you’re looking to get out of credit card debt on your own, here are some tips for how to do it:

1. Figure out how much debt you have

First things first, sit down and add up all your credit card balances. I know, sometimes it feels easier to ignore the issue than to face it head-on. But you can’t begin to make real progress on your card debt until you know exactly how much you’re working with.

So, if you haven’t already, open up a new spreadsheet on your computer or pull out a pen and paper, log into all your credit card accounts, and write down your current balance and APR for each. It can look as simple as this:

Credit card nameCredit card balanceAPR
Discover It$2,65017%
Chase Freedom$95016%
American Express$1,90814%

2. Create a debt payoff plan

Now it’s time to create a game plan for how you’ll tackle this debt. There are two main methods you can use: the debt snowball method and the debt avalanche method.

It doesn’t matter which one you choose, so go with the one that resonates with you most. They both lead to you paying off debt, so don’t get hung up on this part. Any progress is good progress!

Debt snowball method

The debt snowball method is all about small wins. You start by paying off your credit card with the lowest balance first, so you can knock it out as quickly as possible. Based on the chart above, you’d start with your Chase Freedom card, which has a $950 balance. Then you’d move onto American Express, then Discover It.

You may pay a little more in interest this way, but the motivational high you get from quickly paying off that first balance is supposed to give you the spark you need to stick with it.

Debt avalanche method

The debt avalanche method is all about saving the most money in interest. You start with the card that has the highest APR and throw everything you’ve got at it until it’s gone.

In this case, you’d start by paying off the Discover It card first, then you’d move onto Chase Freedom and American Express.

3. Review your debt relief options

Debt relief options are designed to help you get out of credit card debt fast. Not all of them will work for your situation, but a few of them might:

Balance transfer

Some credit card companies lure you in with attractive 0% balance transfers that let you pause interest for up to 21 months. (One popular option is the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card.) If you qualify for one, it could be a good way to avoid interest while aggressively tackling your balance.

Debt consolidation

Debt consolidation works similarly to a balance transfer (both are meant to help you save money on interest). The difference, however, is that with debt consolidation you take out a loan, then use that money to pay down all your other debts. This effectively rolls all your debts into the new loan. Then, you just focus on paying off that one balance.

Debt consolidation is typically done by taking out a personal loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC). But there are risks involved. And if you have poor credit, you may not qualify for a balance transfer or debt consolidation.

Credit counseling

A nonprofit credit counselor takes a holistic look at your financial situation and helps you create a game plan for paying off debt. They assist with all types of things, including:

  • Consolidating debts
  • Negotiating interest rates with credit card companies
  • Choosing a debt payoff method
  • Learning how to budget
  • Seeing if you qualify for any debt settlement options

Just be wary of credit counselors who aren’t legitimate or affordable. The Federal Trade Commission warns that even those advertised as “nonprofits” can charge high fees or trick you into taking on more debt. Do you research beforehand if you’re considering credit counseling!

Bankruptcy

The brutal consequences of filing for bankruptcy can last for decades. Still, it can be a last-resort option if you’re in an extreme situation where you’re in foreclosure, and lowering your interest rate or cutting expenses simply isn’t enough.

4. Practice good credit card habits

Credit cards aren’t necessarily bad — they can be a great way to build your credit score and earn rewards and points for free travel. As you focus on getting out of debt, practice developing good credit card habits that will allow you to enjoy their benefits in the future.

Some of my best tips include:

  • Always pay off your credit card balance in full each month (don’t just make the minimum payment)
  • Use a budget to track your spending
  • Set up automatic payments so you never get hit with late fees
  • Make sure you keep your credit utilization below 30% (if it’s too high, it will lower your credit score)

5. Track your credit score

You can track your credit score for free using an app like Credit Karma. You can also request a free annual credit report from each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

There’s no need to check your credit score every day, but taking time to do it once or twice a year can help you track your progress as you pay off debt and make sure no one has fraudulently taken out accounts in your name. (If they have, report it to your credit card company immediately.)

Summary

The average credit card debt in the U.S. has ticked back up in recent months — but it isn’t affecting all generations, races, and income levels equally. Some U.S. consumers — especially younger generations and those with a lower income — end up seeing their consumer debt eat up a larger chunk of their earnings.

I hope these findings help shed light on your own situation so you can see how your credit card debt compares to others. If you want to learn more about how to use credit cards responsibly, check out this guide.

Featured image: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock.com

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About the author

Cassidy Horton
Total Articles: 45
Cassidy Horton is a finance writer who specializes in banking and insurance. She earned her MBA and bachelor’s degree in public relations from Georgia Southern University — and has since published hundreds of finance articles online for Forbes Advisor, The Balance, Money, Finder.com, and more. When she's not helping Millennials and Gen Zers gain control of their finances, you can find Cassidy hiking around the Pacific Northwest, cuddling her two cats, and eating way too much fried chicken. Connect with her on cassidyhorton.com or LinkedIn to see what she’s up to next.