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Personal Finance Reports

The Physical & Social Impact of Credit Card Debt

A recent report found that U.S. consumers have hit a seven-year high in overdue credit card payments. Borrowers are now distressed on $11.9 billion in credit card debt. 

It’s not exactly breaking news that Americans enjoy swiping their plastic, sometimes above their means. And racking up credit card debt you can’t repay comes with obvious financial ramifications, including a tanking credit score and a path toward bankruptcy.

But is credit card debt causing more than​ just financial ruin?

To see how deep debt can cut, LendEDU conducted a survey of 1,000 credit card holders in the U.S. who were, at the time of the survey, carrying a balance of more than $5,000. 

Key Credit Card Debt Findings

  • The average respondent held a credit card debt balance of $13,884
  • 49.6% of respondents did not learn about credit card usage at the high school or college level
  • 54.5% of respondents have explored the idea of using a personal loan to pay off credit card debt
  • 82.2% of respondents are actively trying to pay down their credit card debt, 15% are not
  • 60.6% of respondents believe they will be able to become credit card debt-free, 22.2% do not, and 17.2% are unsure

The Physical Impact of Credit Card Debt

  • 88.6% of respondents reported some level of stress due to their credit card debt
  • 33.7% reported that stress on a daily basis, while 18.2% felt it on a weekly basis, 18.5% had the stress on a monthly basis, and 18.2% stated the stress came “sometimes, but not as often as every month”
  • 55.98% of respondents have lost sleep over thinking about paying their credit card balance
  • 29.78% reported headaches due to their credit card debt, 16.36% reported muscle tension, and 14.94% pointed to stomach problems
  • 17.87% experienced fatigue, 11.61% reported rapid heartbeat, and 5.86% had difficulty breathing

The Social Impact of Credit Card Debt

  • 38.7% of respondents said credit card debt has strained their relationships with friends and family
  • 42.2% have had to delay buying a home due to credit card debt, 30.1% have put off starting a family, and 26% have had to delay marriage
  • 34.3% of applicable respondents have made an effort to conceal their credit card debt from their children
  • 31.1% of applicable respondents have made an effort to hide their credit card debt from their partner or significant other
  • 17.2% of applicable respondents have been “dumped” by their partner, spouse, or significant other due to their credit card debt

The Graphics

How Often Does Credit Card Debt Stress Occur?

Are People Losing Sleep Over Their Credit Card Debt?

What Physical Ailments Is Credit Card Debt Causing?

Social Dilemmas Brought On By Credit Card Debt

Are People Hiding Credit Card Debt From Others?

Will Consumers Ever Be Able to Pay Off Their Credit Card Debt?

Personal Loans To Pay Off Credit Card Debt?

Financial Literacy Courses on Credit Cards?


All data that can be found within this report derives from an online poll commissioned by LendEDU and conducted online by online polling company Pollfish. In total, 1,000 U.S. respondents with at least one credit card and a credit card balance they carried over of at least $5,000 were surveyed. The desired respondents were found via screener question and chosen from Pollfish’s online user panel of well over 100 million. The survey was conducted over a 10-day span, starting on Mar. 7, 2018, and ending on Mar. 16, 2018. All respondents were asked to answer each question truthfully and to the best of their ability. 

See more of LendEDU’s Research