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Credit Card Debt Highest Among Older Americans

April 18th, 2013 · No Comments · Credit Cards

Meredith Simonds

by Meredith Simonds

At a time when managing retirement savings should be at the forefront of their minds, older Americans are distracted by record spending, racking up more credit card debt than their younger counterparts. Americans 50+ have an average credit card debt of $8,278, while those under 50 carry credit card balances totaling just $6,258.

Is this to be the wave of the future, accumulating more debt, instead of less, the older we get?

It’s not just the cost of living that’s responsible for a spike in credit card debt among older Americans. Granted, it’s a factor, but there’s also the growing trend among those over 50 to pay debts for their younger family members as well. Add to that loss of employment and a tougher time bouncing back into the job market, and it’s no surprise older Americans are using credit card debt to pick up the slack. After all, older Americans typically have the best credit scores, so qualifying for new credit isn’t an issue.

As reported by PennLive, Americans 50+ are charging up their credit cards to help pay for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Home repairs
  • Car repairs
  • Rent/mortgage
  • Groceries
  • Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Debts of family members, including student loans

The last spending category is one for which we all need to take responsibility — whether you’re someone 50+ tempted to help pay the debts of others, you’re on the receiving end of this generosity, or you’re a family member or friend bearing witness to this. Older Americans are challenged enough taking care of their own debts without taking on the debts of others. The deeper in debt the older generation gets, the tougher time they’ll have affording care for themselves down the road.

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