Senior Credit Card Debt

Fast Facts about Credit Card Debt:

  • Between 1992 and 2004, individuals over age 75 accumulated debt more quickly than any other age cohort: their debt increased 160 percent to an average of $20,234.(1)
  • Among those 65 and older, credit card debt doubled, to $4,907.
  • This debt is forcing some seniors to delay retirement, and others to come out of retirement and back to work.
Reasons for Credit Card Debt:

  • The value of savings-based sources of income has steadily declined, making Social Security the linchpin of the majority of senior’s livelihoods.
  • Social Security plays an important role for women in retirement with 63% of unmarried senior women depending on Social Security for more than half of their income and 35% depending on it for more than 90% of their income.(2)
  • Seniors living on fixed incomes can accumulate debt quickly if they experience health problems and incur high medical costs.
  • High housing outlays contribute to tighter budgets and may force seniors to borrow for other essentials. 
Ways to Avoid and/or Reduce Credit Card Debt:

  • Pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate first.
  • Pay your credit card bill as soon as you receive it, especially if you are carrying over a balance, to reduce your interest charges.
  • If you cannot pay the full amount, pay as much as you can each month.
  • Look for low-rate and no annual fee credit cards. You can get a list of credit cards, interest rates, and fees by contacting RAM Research’s CardTrak, 1420 Celebration Blvd, 2nd Floor, Celebration, Florida 34747, or for free on the Internet at http://www.cardweb.com/
  • For one-on-one credit counseling, contact the National Foundation for Consumer Credit at 301-589-5600 or www.nfcc.org.  
  • The National Financial Education Center can help you reduce your credit card debt. 6213 N Cloverdale Rd Ste 100, Boise ID 83713  or call (877) 877-1143.  


Sources: (1) Employee Benefits Research Institute
            (2)  Social Security Administration.Income of the Population 55 or Older, 2008. April 2010.

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