If you were wondering how your friends can still afford to have all the luxuries they were indulging in before the Biden presidency, here's your three-word answer: Credit card debt.
For most Americans, inflation and rising interest rates are a one-two punch.
On the heels of another rate hike this week by the Federal Reserve, credit card annual percentage rates are already near 20%, on average, and set to climb even higher. At the same time, more consumers are leaning on credit to afford increasingly expensive necessities, like food and rent.
That helped propel total credit card debt to a record $930.6 billion at the end of 2022, a 18.5% spike from a year earlier, according to the latest quarterly report by TransUnion.
18.5% higher than just last year.
That's a HUGE spike in twelve months' time. And the report here places the blame squarely on inflation and the rising interest rates.
Remember how the rich politicians wanted you to celebrate that stimmy money?
The average balance rose to $5,805 over that same period, TransUnion found.
At nearly 20%, if you made minimum payments toward this average credit card balance, it would take you more than 17 years to pay off the debt and cost you more than $8,213 in interest, Bankrate calculated.
This makes me sick just thinking about it.
"Whether it's shopping for a new car or buying eggs in the grocery store, consumers continue to be impacted in ways big and small by both high inflation and the interest rate hikes implemented by the Federal Reserve," said Michele Raneri, vice president of U.S. research and consulting at TransUnion.
Overall, an additional 202 million new credit accounts were opened in the fourth quarter, led by originations among Generation Z, or adults ages 18 to 25, and the tally of total credit cards hit a record 518.4 million.
The US has roughly 334 million people. Yet we've got 518.4 MILLION credit cards floating out there.