RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – There’s some good news resulting from the pandemic – it’s caused credit cardholder debt to drop as more people pay off their cards.
However, the average cardholder still has more than $5,000 of credit card debt.
Those who track credit cards say about $106 billion in credit card debt has been paid off by consumers due to the influx of stimulus money during the pandemic, as well as the fact that many people didn’t go out as much in the last year which reduced their credit card use.
Even with those payoffs though, many people are still carrying a lot of credit card debt.
“The total amount of credit card debt today is $787 billion,” said Doug Milnes of MoneyGeek.
That amounts to $5,668 in credit card debt for the average person, who generally carries that debt spread over four or five credit cards.
Here in North Carolina, a MoneyGeek analysis indicated cardholders here are carrying about $5,100 in card debt – a bit below the national average.
When it comes to those high balances, payments on that amount can still hurt you because of the interest rates charged by the credit card companies.
“They’re really high and if you’re carrying a balance, it can create a vicious cycle where the interest rate makes your balanced higher and it’s even harder to get yourself out of it,” said Milnes.
“The ideal balance is the amount that will fit into your monthly spending,” he said. “You really need to be able to pay off your credit card bill every month.”
MoneyGeek says you shouldn’t use your credit card as a tool to buy things you can’t afford.
“If you have multiple credit cards, it’s important you manage all of them,” he said. “Across all those balances you want to be able to pay down those credit cards.”
If you’re trying to reduce your balance by paying more than the minimum payments, don’t keep using your credit cards to buy more things.
“Depending on your balances and interest rates, you may not make a difference in your balances next month especially if next month has the same level of spending on it,” said Milnes.
If you get to a place where you are struggling to pay those cards, come up with a plan to curtail other expenses so you can get those card payments under control again.
Once you come up with that plan, stick to it. It’s like a diet. You may not see results immediately, but long term, it’ll pay off.