Average credit card debt by age, location and credit score

Shot of a customer paying for their order with a credit card in a cafe Image: Shot of a customer paying for their order with a credit card in a cafe

In a Nutshell

Credit card debt is a fact of life across generations, geography and credit profiles, a Credit Karma analysis found — but Gen X and Baby Boomer members, along with those who have lower credit scores, are among those carrying the most credit card debt, on average.

Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. Availability of products, features and discounts may vary by state or territory. Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about our team.
Advertiser Disclosure

We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.

Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.

Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.

On average, Credit Karma members hold around $6,146 in credit card debt, according our analysis.

But there’s some variation in average credit card debt when you break it down by generation, location or credit score range. Our study found that …

  • By age group, Baby Boomer members carry the highest average credit card debt per person (about $8,684), followed closely by Gen X (nearly $8,079).
  • By credit score range, those with TransUnion VantageScore 3.0® credit scores of 660 to 719 had the heaviest credit card debt on average ($7,566).

Total U.S. credit card debt hit a record high at the end of 2018, slightly surpassing a peak last seen in 2008, during the recession. Federal Reserve Bank of New York data shows that, at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019, total U.S. household debt — including credit card debt — had been on the rise for more than five years. Our analysis aimed to create a more-detailed picture of credit card debt, looking at different groups of Credit Karma members. (Learn more about our methodology.)



Want to know more?

Key findings: Average credit card debt by group

Credit Karma members overall carry an average of $6,146 in credit card debt per person.
Across age groups, Baby Boomers have the highest average credit card debt per person, at $8,684, followed by Gen X ($8,079). By comparison, millennials have an average of $5,026 and Gen Zers have a much lower average ($1,736).
Average credit card debt among members is highest in Scottsdale at $8,696, more than twice the average credit card debt in Detroit, which has the lowest average credit card debt at $3,982.
Looking at credit profiles, members with TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 scores from 660 to 719 carry the highest average credit card debt per person, at $7,566 — while those with the strongest credit scores (760+) carry almost a quarter less in average credit card debt ($5,756).

Age and average credit card debt

Looking at the chart below, you can see that Credit Karma members across generations carry upwards of $1,000 to multiple thousands of dollars in credit card debt on average.

Perhaps because of their younger age, Gen Z members (ages 18 to 24) carry the lowest credit card debt burden — an average of $1,736 per person — compared to other generations.

By comparison, Baby Boomers carry about five times as much average credit card debt per person, at $8,684. That’s equivalent to about nine months of median mortgage payments in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s biennial American Housing Survey from 2017.

Credit card debt stats for Credit Karma members by generation
Generation Average credit card debt
Gen Z $1,736
Millennials $5,026
Gen X $8,079
Baby Boomers $8,684

Based on Credit Karma members with credit card debt in April 2020.

Cities with the highest and lowest average credit card debt

Looking at the 100 most populous cities in the U.S., we found that Credit Karma members on both coasts are among those with the highest average credit card debt per person.

Credit Karma members in Scottsdale, Arizona, have the highest average credit card debt, at $8,696 per person, followed by Irvine, California. On the flip side, Credit Karma members in Detroit, Michigan, have the lowest average credit card debt at $3,982 each.

10 cities where Credit Karma members have the highest average credit card debt
Rank City Average credit card debt per person
1 Scottsdale, AZ $8,696
2 Irvine, CA $8,562
3 Virginia Beach, VA $8,352
4 Plano, TX $8,138
5 Chesapeake, VA $8,104
6 Chula Vista, CA $8,082
7 Honolulu, HI $7,943
8 San Diego, CA $7,537
9 Gilbert, AZ $7,442
10 Miami, FL $7,440

10 cities where Credit Karma members have the lowest average credit card debt
Rank City Average credit card debt per person
1 Detroit, MI $3,982
2 Milwaukee, WI $4,326
3 Cleveland, OH $4,674
4 Saint Paul, MN $4,771
5 Toledo, OH $4,799
6 Memphis, TN $4,853
7 Indianapolis, IN $4,959
8 Buffalo, NY $5,031
9 Philadelphia, PA $5,032
10 Baton Rouge, LA $5,045

At least some of the areas with higher credit card debt may have something in common — a higher than average cost of living.

The median monthly housing cost in Virginia Beach, for example, is $1,198, according to the Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey from 2018 — higher than the national average of $1,036, also based on census data.   

Credit score bands and average card debt

Studying average credit card debt across TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 credit score bands is another way to look at credit card debt variances.

VantageScore 3.0 credit score band Average credit card debt
Thin file (no score) $1,687
Lower than 600 $5,208
600 to 659 $6,692
660 to 719 $7,566
720 to 759 $7,057
760 or higher $5,756

Tips to pay off credit card debt

No matter how old you are, where you live or what your credit scores are, managing credit card debt can be a challenge. If you’re struggling with it, you’re not alone.

Here are a few ideas to consider that might help.

Consider consolidating your debt

Debt consolidation involves taking out a loan (or line of credit) to cover your debt and help you pay it off faster. This new loan or line of credit pays off the debt, including interest, that has accumulated across your accounts. With the original debt paid, the debt-consolidation loan — which can be a personal loan — then functions just like any other kind of installment loan: You begin paying it off in equal monthly payments. But keep in mind that a debt-consolidation loan usually only makes financial sense if you’re able to get a lower interest rate than you previously paid on your balances.

A balance transfer credit card is another way to consolidate debt. Balance transfer credit cards often offer a promotional 0% interest rate on balance transfers, so less of your money goes toward interest and more can go toward paying down your principal. You’ll have a number of months to pay off the balance at the lower rate until the introductory offer expires. If you’re able to pay down your debt within the limited time period, you can save a lot of money.

Considering all your options is key to finding what might be the right solution for your situation.

Create a budget and stick to it

Keeping a mental budget doesn’t always cut it. If you really want to get your finances in order, we recommend writing down a monthly budget and checking it often. Be realistic about your spending habits and limitations, and adjust your budget as you learn more about yourself and your financial habits. Challenge yourself to save more than you usually would, and consider putting those savings toward your credit card debt.

Find ways to cut smaller expenses

Haven’t been listening to Spotify as much as you thought you would? Cancel it. Only watch one or two cable shows but pay for the full package? Cut the cord and move to a subscription service like Netflix or Hulu. You could even try kicking your Starbucks habit or starting to look for free weekend activities — there are many ways to trim down your expenses. Then be sure to take those extra dollars and use them to pay more toward your debt.

Coronavirus impact: What to do if you’re worried about credit card debt

If the financial impact of the coronavirus has you worried about how to pay down your credit card debt, it’s important to know that credit card issuers may be able to offer you payment relief. Contact your issuer before you miss a payment so that you don’t get hit with things like late payment fees or a late payment being reported to the credit bureaus. And check out our list of credit card issuer relief measures to see what options your issuer may be offering.


Methodology

To determine the average credit card debt among U.S. Credit Karma members, we looked at the open credit card accounts of more than 82 million members in April 2020. In aggregate, we analyzed the amount of credit card debt carried by certain age groups and VantageScore 3.0 credit score bands, information based on TransUnion credit reports. We also looked at aggregate ZIP code data in members’ TransUnion credit reports to develop a list of cities where members held the most average credit card debt. Specifically, we studied a list of the most populous cities based on U.S. Census data.


About the author: Paris Ward is a content strategist at Credit Karma, providing readers with the latest news that will aid their financial progress. She has more than a decade of experience as a writer an… Read more.