This Is the Average 40-Something's Credit Card Balance

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KEY POINTS

  • People in their 40s have higher credit card balances than any other age group.
  • If you're carrying debt, it's important to pay it down as quickly as possible.


Is yours higher or lower?

Credit card debt is often regarded as an issue that impacts younger people. But actually, 20-somethings don't carry the most credit card debt, nor do 30-somethings. Rather, 40-somethings get that distinction, according to recent data from Personal Capital.

The average credit card balance among people in their 40s is $9,379. And while you'd think younger borrowers would owe more on their credit cards, the average balances for 20-somethings and 30-somethings are $3,511 and $6,568, respectively.

Why do 40-somethings have so much credit card debt?

There may be a reason why people in their 40s owe so much on their credit cards: lifestyle creep. Those in their 40s are likely to earn higher salaries than those who are younger with less work experience. But those higher salaries might lead to an uptick in spending -- and thus higher credit card balances.

Remember, because those in their 40s might have higher wages than those in their 20s and 30s, they may be privy to higher spending limits on their credit cards. But that could, in turn, lead to higher levels of spending and debt.

How to pay off credit card debt

No matter how old you are, it's important to rid yourself of credit card debt as quickly as possible. But if you're in your 40s, it's really time to get serious about that debt.

At this stage of life, it's important to really start prioritizing retirement savings. But it's hard to do that when you have credit card debt payments hanging over your head and you're losing money to interest.

One option for shedding your credit card debt more efficiently is to do a balance transfer, where you move your existing balances onto a single credit card with a lower interest rate than what you're currently paying. You may even qualify for a 0% introductory rate on your balance transfer. That's a good thing, because for a set period of time, you won't accrue interest on the sum you owe.

Another option is to take out a personal loan, use it to pay off your credit cards, and then pay off that loan instead. At first, this might seem silly, because you're only swapping one type of debt for another. But just as a balance transfer doesn't make credit card debt go away, so too will this option leave you with debt -- just a less-costly kind. That's because personal loans generally charge less interest than credit cards.

Plus, with a credit card, the interest rate on your debt can be variable. With a personal loan, it's fixed, so you won't have to worry about your monthly payments increasing over time.

Credit card debt is a dangerous thing at any age. It may give you comfort to see that other people in their 40s have a lot of it, but the reality is that you should still do your best to eliminate yours as quickly as you can. The sooner you do, the less money you'll waste, and that could open the door to being able to meet your future financial goals.

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