Credit card debt is on the rise: American card balances reached $1.13 trillion in the last three months of 2023, up from $986 billion at the end of 2022, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York report. It seems higher inflation may have forced consumers to turn more to their credit cards to meet the rising costs of even everyday goods, such as gas and groceries.

This continues the trend of rising credit card balances, after a decline to $770 billion in the first quarter of 2021, likely as a result of consumers using their pandemic stimulus payments to tackle credit card debt.

Despite the economic uncertainty brought on by the 2020 pandemic, the average credit score has been rising since then, from 711 in 2020 to 715 for 2023, according to Experian. Credit scores have steadily inched up since the Great Recession that started in 2008 — a total increase of 22 points since 2014 (when it was 693).

But higher balances today are still a concern, and experts expect these balances to increase.

Credit Card
Key credit card debt statistics
  • Average credit card balance in 2023: $6,501
  • Average credit utilization rate in 2023: 30%
  • Average number of credit cards in 2021: 3.84
  • Percent of accounts 30 to 59 days past due in 2023: 2.01%

Source: Experian 2023, 2021

Average credit card debt by state

Here’s a look at the states with the highest and lowest average American credit card debt, according to the most recent data from Experian. Alaska had the highest credit card debt at $7,338, and Indiana had the lowest with an average credit card balance of $5,017.

State Average credit card debt
Source: Experian
Alaska $7,338
Connecticut $6,825
New Jersey $6,879
Maryland $6,668
Texas $6,542

States with the lowest average credit card debt:

State Average credit card debt
Source: Experian
Wisconsin $4,808
Iowa $4,811
Kentucky $4,894
Mississippi $4,912
Indiana $5,017
  • State Average credit card debt
    Source: Experian
    Alabama $5,364
    Alaska $7,338
    Arizona $5,755
    Arkansas $5,183
    California $6,030
    Colorado $6,274
    Connecticut $6,825
    Delaware $6,015
    Florida $6,408
    Georgia $6,265
    Hawaii $6,343
    Idaho $5,181
    Illinois $6,011
    Indiana $5,017
    Iowa $4,811
    Kansas $5,532
    Kentucky $4,894
    Louisiana $5,577
    Maine $5,078
    Maryland $6,668
    Massachusetts $6,046
    Michigan $5,265
    Minnesota $5,425
    Mississippi $4,912
    Missouri $5,417
    Montana $5,385
    Nebraska $5,312
    Nevada $6,176
    New Hampshire $5,944
    New Jersey $6,819
    New Mexico $5,350
    New York $6,269
    North Carolina $5,658
    North Dakota $5,408
    Ohio $5,320
    Oklahoma $5,654
    Oregon $5,316
    Pennsylvania $5,640
    Rhode Island $5,867
    South Carolina $5,714
    South Dakota $5,071
    Tennessee $5,432
    Texas $6,542
    Utah $5,535
    Vermont $5,159
    Virginia $6,477
    Washington $6,043
    West Virginia $5,005
    Wisconsin $4,808
    Wyoming $5,745

Average credit card debt by age group

According to the most recent Experian analysis, Generation X carries the largest credit card balances of all five generations. While each generation saw its debt climb between 2021 and 2022, the silent generation added the least amount of debt (4.4 percent), while Gen Z saw the biggest increase (25.1 percent) in their card balances.

Generation Average credit card debt
Source: Experian
Silent generation (77+) $3,316
Baby boomers (58–76) $6,245
Generation X (42–57) $8,134
Millennials (26–41) $5,649
Generation Z (19–25) $2,854

Credit card debt by race

Although Black and Hispanic adults are less likely to own credit cards, those who do are more likely to carry a balance compared to White and Asian adults, according to the Federal Reserve’s May 2023 Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households.

Race/ethnicity % carrying a balance (among cardholders)
Source: Federal Reserve
White, non-Hispanic 42%
Black 78%
Hispanic 62%
Asian 27%

Credit card debt by household income

Nearly all households with family incomes of at least $100,000 have a credit card, according to the May 2023 Federal Reserve household survey. While having a credit card is less common for lower-income consumers, they are more likely to be carrying card balances. And about 50 percent of those with annual incomes of $25,000 to $99,000 carried a balance on their credit cards at least once in the previous 12 months.

Family income % carrying a balance (among cardholders)
Source: Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2022 — May 2023
Less than $25,000 56%
$25,000 to $49,999 57%
$50,0000 to $99,999 53%
$100,000 or more 38%

Credit card debt today

A November 2023 Bankrate survey of 2,350 U.S adults finds that 49 percent of cardholders carried credit card debt from month to month, up from 39 percent in 2021. Emergency expenses is the leading cause for incurring credit card debt, with 43 percent of those carrying the debt pointing to unexpected emergency expenses as the reason.

When the average credit card interest rate is at 20.75 percent (with those carrying a balance paying a higher 22.75 percent), that debt can cost Americans dearly. One common debt-payoff strategy includes opening a balance transfer credit card that charges 0 percent interest for a set period of time.

Fortunately, some of the best balance transfer credit cards offer 0 percent introductory annual percentage rates (APRs) for up to 18 or even 21 months, meaning cardholders can transfer and chip away debt without owing a dime in interest for nearly two years. To maximize a card with a 0 percent introductory APR offer, you’ll want to avoid making any new purchases with your card until you’ve fully paid off your transferred debt.

4 ways to eliminate credit card debt

Rome wasn’t built in a day. And it takes time for your credit card debt repayment strategy to pay off, too. With a clear budget and safeguards in place, you can start paying down your balances without spiraling into even more debt.

  1. Take stock of your current debt situation. You can’t tackle your debt if you’re unclear on how much you actually owe. Check all of your credit card accounts and note your balances, interest rates and payment due dates. If your interest rate is steep, try calling your credit card issuer and asking for a lower rate.
  2. Figure out how much you can afford to pay toward your debt monthly. You should always aim to make at least the minimum payment on your card each month. But carrying a hefty balance from month to month can cost you in the long run. After you’ve figured out how your minimum payments fit into your budget, see if you can allocate a bit more toward your payment so that you’ll pay less in interest over time and shave a few months off your repayment timeline.
  3. Automate payments where you can. If part of the reason your debt has grown is that you’re forgetting a payment here and there, set yourself up for success with credit card autopay so that you never miss a payment. You can also set alerts or reminders on your phone or calendar app for notification when it’s time for your payment.
  4. Set time aside for regular financial check-ins. Block off 30 minutes each month to review your accounts, track your progress and make any adjustments to your repayment plan. Maybe you received a bonus during the month and feel comfortable paying a little extra, or you had an unexpected emergency and can only make the minimum payment this month. Whatever it is, just make sure you adjust the plan accordingly.

The bottom line

Many Americans have credit card debt, and there’s no shame in having racked up balances in the past. Many factors play a role in how much credit card debt you carry and your ability to pay it off quickly.

But it’s important to prioritize paying down your debt, because the way that you manage your credit can determine how much access you have to it in the future — and how much it’ll cost you to pay it down. If you’re deep in debt, don’t let it continue to grow. Sit down and make a plan to pay it off as soon as possible.