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Older Americans Carrying More Credit Card Debt


Can some types of debt cause the blues? Why are people approaching retirement age carrying credit card debt? This column shares results from recent research about credit card debt among older Americans. [...]

A study by AARP and Demos, “In the Red: Older Americans and Credit Card Debt,” found that Americans age 50 plus had an average combined balance on all credit cards of $8,278 in 2012, compared with an average of $6,258 for people under age 50. This survey was based on a nationally representative sample of 997 households. Ninety-five percent of the people surveyed had incomes between $20,000 and $99,000.

Thirty-four percent of people age 50 plus said they used credit cards to pay for basic living expenses like housing, groceries, utilities or insurance because they didn’t have enough money in their checking or savings account. Half of the people said their debt includes medical expenses, with prescriptions and dental expenses most common.