Is Credit-Card Debt Out of Control?

Balances are on the rise, but defaults are still low.

Couple Discussing Credit Card Bills
(Image credit: This content is subject to copyright.)

A dollar sign followed by 13 digits tends to swivel heads. So credit card research site CardHub’s recent prediction that U.S. credit card holders will carry roughly $1 trillion in outstanding balances by the end of the year raises questions about how consumers are faring as debt levels grow. CardHub, which issued the forecast based on data from the Federal Reserve, warns that consumers may be on the path to spending beyond their means—a return to the bad habits that predated the 2007–08 financial crisis. Credit card balances recently sat at about $885.4 billion, by CardHub’s reading of the latest quarterly figures, compared with $832.5 billion a year earlier.

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Lisa Gerstner
Editor, Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine

Lisa has been the editor of Kiplinger Personal Finance since June 2023. Previously, she spent more than a decade reporting and writing for the magazine on a variety of topics, including credit, banking and retirement. She has shared her expertise as a guest on the Today Show, CNN, Fox, NPR, Cheddar and many other media outlets around the nation. Lisa graduated from Ball State University and received the school’s “Graduate of the Last Decade” award in 2014. A military spouse, she has moved around the U.S. and currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.