Just 49% of Americans Can Pay Off Their Credit Card Debt Today: Survey

Here’s how we wind up overspending $315 a month.
A woman reviews her credit card statement

Americans have a lot to worry about these days when it comes to credit card usage. A new survey found that only half of Americans say they could pay off their credit card debt today if they had to.

In a recent ValuePenguin survey, 49% of the 2,000 respondents said they could pay off their credit card debt today. While credit card debt can wreak havoc on your credit score, only 42% bother to check their credit score each month despite 3 out of 4 respondents reporting they have credit card debt.

This is a larger trend of Americans making poor decisions—about eight a month—when it comes to their finances. In fact, the typical person makes an average of 91 “financial fails” per year, which adds up to $315.16 a month that could have otherwise been saved. The biggest areas of overspending: eating out (54%), online shopping (35%) and clothes and shoes (28%).

The top “financial fails” we make monthly include:

  • Not saving enough money | 38%
  • Getting takeout instead of cooking | 32%
  • Spending more than they should | 29%

Many Americans (78%) say their finances are a source of stress, according to the survey, which found that the average respondent spends 41 minutes a day worrying about their finances. If you’re concerned about your finances, there are steps you can take to improve your situation, especially when it comes to credit card debt:

  • Pay your credit card bill on time. Racking up charges on your credit card isn’t the only way Americans find themselves with credit card debt. Not paying your credit card bill on or before the due date is another common way people get in trouble.
  • Keep your balances low. A low balance helps boost your credit score. And you’re more likely to be able to pay your balance in full and on time. To maintain a high credit score, aim for a 20% or below utilization ratio, meaning, if your credit limit is $1,000, aim to charge no more than $200 a month.
  • Use a credit card debt payoff calculator. This easy-to-use tool will help you figure out what your monthly payments need to be in order to achieve your credit card payoff goal within a set time period.
  • Switch your credit card debt to a balance transfer card. You can save money if you defer interest on your credit card balances by taking advantage of low- to no-interest introductory rate card offers and transferring your credit card balance to a balance transfer card.

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