Updated: March 26, 2018
When people talk about the American Dream, it’s hard to do so without thinking about debt. For all the homes and cars and colleges available to us, we still have to pay for them. And doing so in cash is close to impossible for the average American.
So how much debt are we actually taking on? The average credit card debt and other forms of debt that most Americans carry may surprise you.
We’ve analyzed the most common forms of debt Americans face: credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and medical debt. (You can find our latest data on student loans here.) Check it out to see where you stand.
Credit card debt in the U.S.
Credit cards are a common spending tool and are central to building good credit. But they come with some of the highest interest rates on any form of debt, and no formal repayment plan. Unfortunately, this can make it easy to get into credit card debt you can’t pay off.
Credit card debt is a common issue that challenges American consumers:
- $1.03 trillion total U.S. credit card debt¹
- 196.8 million credit cardholders in the U.S. (or 79% of adults)²
- $5,234 average credit card debt per cardholder in the U.S.³
- $8,750 average credit card debt per U.S. household³
- 14.99% APR average credit card rate on accounts that assess interest¹
Average mortgage debt in the U.S.
Buying a home in cash might sound like a dream — but the cost of a home can leave it just that: a dream. But as necessary as a mortgage may be, how can you tell how much mortgage you can afford?
Review some of the data below to see just where you stand in comparison to the average American carrying a mortgage:
- $14.9 trillion total U.S. mortgage debt⁴
- $338,078 average mortgage size for new purchases⁵
- 4.45% APR average mortgage on a 30-year mortgage⁶
Car loans in the U.S.
Few people are able to buy a car using cash, which makes auto loans a necessity for most. That said, the prices of auto loans have been soaring in the past few years.
In fact, in 2016, total U.S. auto loan debt surpassed $1 trillion and it doesn’t show any signs of letting up. Here’s is where this trend stands as of the end of 2017:
- $1.13 trillion in total U.S. auto loan debt⁷
- $31,099 is the average auto loan amount on a new car
- The average loan term is 69 months on a new car
- The average auto loan payment amount is $515 on a new car
- The average auto loan APR is 5.11% on a new car
Medical debt in the U.S.
A medical emergency or extended illness can wipe out even the strongest of emergency funds. If you’re finding yourself dealing with medical debts you can’t afford, you’re not alone.
Below are some statistics that show how medical debt has grown and where it hits the hardest:
- 42.9 million people have overdue medical debt in the U.S.⁸
- $1,766 average balance owed among people with overdue medical debt
- 25.7% of people under 65 struggle to pay medical bills of more than $2,000⁹
- 12.6% of people under 65 struggle to pay medical bills of $2,000 or less
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- Federal Reserve Consumer Credit Report
- Federal Reserve Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households
- U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts
- Federal Reserve Mortgage Debt Outstanding Report
- Mortgage Bankers Association
- Freddie Mac
- Experian State of the Automotive Finance Market 2017
- Advisory Board
- National Center for Health Statistics