For many Americans, credit card debt has become a way of life. According to CreditCards.com, more than 39 million Americans have carried some form of credit card debt for at least the last two years. While using a credit card responsibly can help establish credit, it can become problematic when the debt accumulates.
Credit card companies camp out at universities, promoting their cards to students at colleges and offering free gifts for those who sign up that day. The problem is, many of these students have no idea how to pay off debt and see these cards as a way to buy products without any consequence. Before they know it, these cardholders are carrying a balance they have no way of paying. According to the survey from CreditCards.com, eight million of those surveyed say they do not remember a time when they were not in debt.
The CreditCards.com survey was conducted by YouGov, who surveyed over 2,500 adults. Of those surveyed, 1,780 were credit cardholders and 1,040 of them carry debt on these cards. These cardholders are not charging unnecessary expenses, however. In fact, most of the individuals surveyed said that they used their credit cards to pay for daily spending on necessary expenses, such as groceries or utilities, or on emergency expenses, including medical bills and car repairs.
The survey also reported that the millennial generation was the group that was the most concerned about credit card debt. Due to their high level of student loan debt, many of these younger consumers are not able to cover their daily living expenses on top of their student loan payments.
While the consumers surveyed who were in older generations who use credit cards to pay off medical expenses, millennials say they have no choice but to resort to credit cards to pay for food and living expenses. When the bill arrives, they are not able to pay off the balance in full.
The key to handling credit cards successfully is to not let the balance get out of hand. If possible, pay the balance down monthly after using the card for required expenses. Since the average interest rate is at 17.55 percent, carrying a balance from month to month can make it nearly impossible to pay down the debt. Minimum monthly payments will only allow the cardholder to pay off any interest accrued during that monthly billing cycle.
If you are struggling to pay off credit card debt, certain tips can be helpful in dealing with the debt. One tip is to not fall victim to companies promising rewards for spending on their cards. If you are paying the balance off in full every month, the rewards offered can be beneficial, but if you are carrying a balance and still using the card to earn rewards on top of the balance owed, you are only making the situation worse. If your credit card has a high interest rate, consider a balance transfer to a new card with a lower interest rate. However, be sure that you know what the promotional period is for that card so that you pay off the balance before the promotional time expires. Otherwise, you may end up with an even higher interest rate when all is said and done.
People living in the Miami metro area, which includes both Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, carry the second-highest credit card debt balances in the country, second to San Antonio, Texas.
As bankruptcy attorneys, we see credit card debt as one of the most common problems facing those with serious financial challenges. It is not surprising with the high interest rates, unreasonable fees, harassing debt collection calls, penalties and never-ending minimum payments that do not even make a dent in your actual debt. We offer additional tips for eliminating credit card debt on our blog.
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If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.