US Credit Card Debt Closed Last Year at an All-Time High

Mar 8, 2019

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America, we need to talk.

We got news that US credit card debt closed in 2018 at an all-time high — $870 billion, to be exact. I’m sorry, what?! It’s time for a little tough love.

While we’re always here to tell you which credit card — or cards — to get, we’ve also said this time and time again: Don’t get a credit card if you cannot afford to pay your bills, on time, in full, every single month.

A credit card is not a magical piece of plastic (or metal) that gives you unlimited funds or monopoly money (as much as we wish that were true). It’s a savvy way to rack up points and miles for travel, but you should never get a credit card and buy things that you normally wouldn’t have, just for the sake of “getting the points.”

Even if you’re (gasp) not using a credit card to rack up points and miles, the same thing holds true: Don’t spend money on your credit card that you don’t have. Managing Editor Brady Porche also wants to remind you, “If you’re a credit card user and you want to avoid getting into debt, it’s critical to create a budget and stick to it. Avoid spending more with your card than you can pay off each month. Better yet, pay your balance down to zero each week if your budget allows it.”

While we’re on the subject, now seems like a good time to reiterate our 10 commandments for travel credit cards.

  1. Pay your balance in full
  2. Do not miss a payment
  3. Don’t cancel a card before you have opened a new one
  4. Don’t cancel a card and lose your points and miles
  5. Don’t allow your rewards to expire
  6. Don’t miss out on a sign-up bonus
  7. Take advantage of category bonuses
  8. Don’t ignore cards with annual fees
  9. Pursue retention bonuses
  10. Don’t pay foreign transaction fees

The bottom line? Don’t spend what you don’t have, and pay your bills in full every single month. Now let’s lower that number for 2019, shall we?

Featured photo by Getty Images.

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