Americans age 50 and older are burdened with more credit card debt on average than younger people, according to a survey by the New York-based research organization Demos.
The report shows that older households carried an average credit card balance of $8,278 in 2012.
Credit card debt averaged $6,258 for those under 50.
Moreover, a third of older households used credit cards to pay for basic living expenses such as rent, mortgage payments, groceries, or utilities.
Half of Americans age 50-plus also carried medical expenses on their credit cards. Prescription drugs and dental expenses were the main contributors.
The results of the Demos survey of low- and middle-income households is based on a nationally representative sample of 997 American households that carried credit card debt for three months or more. AARP’s Public Policy Institute collaborated with Demos to produce the report.
“It reveals a troubling picture of middle-income 50+ households carrying card debt near or in their retirement years,” said Amy Traub, Senior Policy Analyst at Demos.
- A quarter of older households said loss of a job contributed to their credit card debt in the last three years.
- Nearly one in five (18 percent) older Americans nearing retirement said they dipped into retirement funds to pay down credit card debt.
- Older Americans were twice as likely as those under age 50 to take on credit card debt to assist other family members (23 percent vs. 11 percent).