Average credit card debt by age, location and credit score

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In a Nutshell

Credit card debt is a fact of life across generations, geography and credit profiles, a recent 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.

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On average, people hold around $3,100 in credit card debt, according to a Credit Karma 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, Gen X members carry the highest average credit card debt per person (about $3,800), followed closely by Baby Boomers (nearly $3,600).
  • By credit score range, those with TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 credit scores of 500 to 579 had the heaviest credit card debt on average (nearly $4,600).

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. 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 $3,123 in credit card debt per person.
Across age groups, Gen X members have the highest average credit card debt per person at $3,823, followed by Baby Boomers ($3,556) and millennials ($2,662).
Average credit card debt among members is highest in Virginia Beach at $4,380, almost twice the average credit card debt in Detroit, which has the lowest average credit card debt at $2,315.
Looking at credit profiles, people with TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 scores from 500 to 579 carry the highest average credit card debt per person at $4,577 — while those with the strongest credit scores (760+) carry nearly half that amount.

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 $1,358 per person — compared to other generations.

By comparison, Gen X members carry nearly triple the average credit card debt per person at $3,823. That’s equivalent to about four 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 $1,358
Millennials $2,662
Gen X $3,823
Baby Boomers $3,556

 

A pie chart shows the breakdown of total credit card debt by generation

Based on Credit Karma members with credit card debt in March 2019

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 in coastal Virginian communities are among those with the highest average credit card debt per person.

Credit Karma members in Virginia Beach, Virginia have the highest average credit card debt, at $4,380 per person, followed by Chesapeake, Virginia. On the flip side, Credit Karma members in Detroit, Michigan have the lowest average credit card debt at $2,315 each.

10 cities where Credit Karma members have the highest average credit card debt

Rank City Average credit card debt per person
1 Virginia Beach, VA $4,380
2 Chesapeake, VA $4,360
3 Scottsdale, AZ $4,082
4 Anchorage, AK $4,049
5 Irvine, CA $3,903
6 Chula Vista, CA $3,770
7 Plano, TX $3,753
8 Norfolk, VA $3,749
9 Honolulu, HI $3,701
10 Gilbert, AZ $3,625

 

10 cities where Credit Karma members have the lowest average credit card debt

Rank City Average credit card debt per person
1 Detroit, MI $2,315
2 San Bernardino, CA $2,361
3 Milwaukee, WI $2,422
4 Cleveland, OH $2,439
5 Stockton, CA $2,535
6 Madison, WI $2,549
7 Toledo, OH $2,551
8 Buffalo, NY $2,596
9 Columbus, OH $2,613
10 Saint Paul, MN $2,618


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) $1,528
Lower than 500 $3,345
500 to 579 $4,577
580 to 659 $1,473
660 to 759 $2,857
760 or higher $2,326

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.


Methodology

To determine the average credit card debt among Credit Karma members, we looked at the open credit card accounts of more than 85 million members in March 2019. 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.