How do you think your credit habits compare to other Americans? Today CNN.com’s “Quick Vote” question is “Are you leaking cash by carrying credit card debt?” As of right now, 229,380 people responded – nearly a quarter million – and although this poll is not scientific and only covers CNN.com readers, I believe it’s a fair representation of the credit card debt in America. Here is how people responded:
- 50% responded “No I pay my balance monthly”… so half of Americans have zero credit card debt.
- 8% said they do have a balance, but it’s less than $1,000.
- 14% replied say they have a balance of less than $5,000.
- 9% responded they have less than $10,000.
- 20% said their credit card debt is more than $10,000.
Are these figures bad or not? Well of course, less debt the better. But it is important to note that many people today finance “big ticket” items like cars, medical procedures, and others on their credit cards entirely, because they are able to score a lower interest rate than, say, a traditional bank loan like they did in the past. Others merely float debt that they could otherwise pay off, because they have it on a 0% balance transfer credit card… so for strategic purposes they do not pay it off even though they have the money. In those ways, these figures may be inaccurate since they are including quasi auto loans, home renovations, and more which are on credit cards.
Whatever the case, one thing is for sure and that is that the above numbers are another example of how the working middle class is being squeezed, and often find the need to resort to credit to pick up the slack.