By Kyle Olson
In the wake of the record $1 Trillion student loan debt milestone and the ever-increasing credit card debt in the US, many debtors are looking for answers. In an economic environment that has seen a glimmer of hope as of late with optimistic job growth, there may be some extraneous factors at play when determining future debt.
According to U.S. News, consumers have ramped up their credit card spending by 424 percent from 2010 to 2011, resulting in over $47 billion in new credit card debt. It is true that many Americans have turned to credit cards to supplement spending in tumultuous times, but the numbers may be skewed.
Credit card rewards programs are becoming increasingly popular and credit card companies are offering more incentives to park your debt with them.
However, experts warn that you should proceed with caution.
Credit card companies offer many of those rewards only if you pay the entire balance off before the next statement cycle. This can result in a loss of the rewards, many times the entire reason why consumers apply for the credit cards.
Credit card debt can be written off by the credit card companies themselves, but those actions can be devastating to credit scores. In some cases, credit card debt that has been written off by your credit card companies can stick with you from anywhere between three to fifteen years.
A 2010 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston estimates that the average American with debt has over $15,000 in credit card debt alone. A staggering number considering many Americans carry several credit cards with outstanding balances that have compounding interest, meaning the interest is added to the principle.
Experts stress, knowing the true cost of purchases made with credit cards is extremely important. With interest, many purchases exceed the amount the consumer is willing to pay for that item in the first place. Purchases that cannot be paid off within that statement cycle may end up costing you much more than the final sale price. Without knowledge of the true cost of the ride-on mower or fragrance set, debtors are buying items at a falsified price.
Adding to the quagmire of debt, credit card companies have tactics in place to earn money off of your debt. One way that this is happening is with late penalties and annual fees.
There are even fees on some credit cards if you don’t use the card for a period of time.
With all of the costs involved in racking up credit card debt, consumers still continue to use their cards at an ever-increasing rate. As enticing as airline miles, cash-back incentives, and gift card rewards are, experts say that spending only what you can afford is the best possible solution to the debt crisis we as Americans are facing.