This study, first in a series examining the relationship between credit card debt and economic security, explores how families are increasingly using credit cards to meet their basic needs. The study looks at factors that drive this record-setting debt and the impact of deregulation on the cost, availability and marketing of credit cards.

September 1, 2013

In This Report, You’ll Learn

  1. 1

    An overview of credit card debt by income, race/ethnicity and age.

  2. 2

    The underlying causes of credit card debt.

  3. 3

    How credit card companies take advantage of deregulated interest rates.

  4. 4

    Policy recommendations for the industry.

  1. 5

    Policy recommendations for consumers.

  2. 6

    Personal stories of credit card debt.

Key Takeaway

Economic Disparity

Increasing credit card debt to meet basic needs – especially among low- and moderate-income families – is a troubling indicator of economic disparity in America. As unemployment continues to rise and communities cope with budget deficits, by cutting funding for essential services, we can expect more families to rely on this draining, short-sighted form of credit.

Average Debt by Income

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations