Americans Racked Up $104 Billion in Credit Card Interest and Fees Last Year
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Americans spent more than $100 billion on credit card interest and fees last year, new information from the FDIC analyzed by Magnify Money shows.
In the 12 months that ended on March 31, US consumers dropped $104 billion on the credit card charges. It’s the first time ever those figures have crossed the $100 billion threshold. The total amount of debt accrued on Americans’ credit cards at just over $1 trillion, the new data show.
The amount Americans are shelling out on interest and fees grew 11% from last year’s numbers. In the 12-month period that ended on March 31, 2017, the number sat at $93.7 billion. And just a few years ago in 2013, the figure was as low as $74.6 billion.
One reason behind the sharp increases in spending on fees: US credit card interest rates have been slowly creeping upward for years. Especially as the Federal Reserve continues to steadily raise rates — twice in 2018 already by a quarter point, and by three quarters of a point each in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Credit card companies raise their interest rates, too, but at a much steeper rate.
The average interest rate for a US credit card is 17%, according to CNBC, but that number can be much higher depending on the card and the user’s credit score.
Travel rewards cards holders who are attempting to score points for their next getaway need to be extra aware of this worrisome trend, particularly because travel cards carry higher interest rates than other cards. It’s one of the golden rules of travel rewards cards: Pay your balance in full. Otherwise, the amount you spend on interest will negate the benefits of the points and miles you earn.
After all, Magnify Money predicts that for 2019, US consumers will spend a whopping $110 billion on interest and fees. So aim not to let your points and miles balances be part of that figure.
(For further reading on travel rewards credit card dos and don’ts, check these posts, too: 4 Credit Card Mistakes You Should Never Make and 3 Ways Credit Card Beginners Can Avoid Biting Off More Than They Can Chew).
Featured image by jacoblund/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees