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COVID-19 has caused a debt surge for some consumers, poll shows

Allie Johnson, Bankrate.com on

Published in Home and Consumer News

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and spend. And a new survey found that, for some, that means carrying a bigger credit card balance.

A September 2021 online survey of 2,400 U.S. adults by Bankrate found 42% of consumers with credit card debt have added to the amount they owe since the pandemic began in March 2020.

This group was split on whether the pandemic was to blame for their financial issues. Out of the consumers who saw their debt increase:

47% said the pandemic caused them to get deeper in debt.

53% cited other reasons for their growing debt load.

Of all the generations represented in the survey, Millennials were most likely to say that the virus was the reason their debt surged.

 

The survey highlights the fact that the big picture data of credit card debt falling during the pandemic leaves out an important part of the story, says Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate.

“Broadly, Americans have saved more and paid down debt over the past 18 months, but those improvements have not been distributed evenly,” Rossman says. “Sadly, a substantial percentage of Americans are faring much worse financially, and that sometimes gets lost in the macro trends.”

Who carries credit card debt and for how long?

More than half of U.S. adults (54%) carry a balance on a card or cards, the poll found, and it can take years for debtors to get their balances to zero.

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