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Generation X has the most credit card debt among Americans. See where the other generations fall and who owes the least.


If you’re struggling to pay off credit card debt, you are far from alone: One in three Americans have more credit card debt than savings both in 2023 and 2024, a Bankrate survey shows.

Although inflation is cooling and the job market remains strong, Americans are still having difficulty keeping up with credit card payments. At the end of 2023, Americans had over $1 trillion in credit card balances, a record high, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

“Credit card and auto loan transitions into delinquency are still rising above pre-pandemic levels,” Wilbert van der Klaauw, economic research advisor at the New York Fed, said in a news release earlier this month. “This signals increased financial stress, especially among younger and lower-income households.”

Which is higher? Your credit card debt or emergency savings?

About 36% of U.S. adults reported having more credit card debt than money in an emergency savings account, a recent Bankrate survey found.

The amount of credit card debt versus emergency savings varies by generation. Millennials and Gen Xers are more likely than other generations to have more credit card debt than emergency savings at their disposal.

“Recognizing that the cost of carrying debt has increased significantly in the past two years and the insufficient level of emergency savings, more Americans are focusing on both paying down debt and boosting emergency savings simultaneously, rather than one to the exclusion of the other,” Bankrate Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride said in a statement.

No matter the financial situation, 36% of Americans said they are prioritizing both paying down debt and increasing emergency savings, according to the survey.

Tips for reducing credit card debt: Only half of Americans believe they can pay off their bill

What is the average credit card debt?

The average American household owes $7,951 in credit card debt a year, according to 2022 data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the U.S. Census Bureau.

How much has credit card debt increased?

Credit card balances increased by about $50 billion, or 4.6%, in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Credit card delinquencies, the amount of time in which cardholders fall behind in making payments, also increased.

The U.S. economy is overall steady, New York Fed researchers said, but areas exist in which Americans are overextended. Higher prices for food, gas and housing contribute to credit card debt.

See graphic: How Americans’ total credit card debt reached record high

Credit card debt by generation

Generation X has the largest credit card balances of all generations. Although each generation experienced an increase in debt between 2021 and 2022, the silent generation added the least amount, according to Bankrate.

Here’s the average credit card debt owed by each generation, according to Bankrate:

  • Generation X has an average of $8,134 in credit card debt
  • Baby boomers have an average of $6,245 in credit card debt
  • Millennials have an average of $5,649 in credit card debt
  • The Silent generation (born between 1928-1946) has an average of $3,316 in credit card debt
  • Generation Z has an average $2,854 in credit card debt

George Petras contributed to this reporting

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