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Can You Guess the Generation Most Likely to Carry a Credit Card Balance?

Few things are more dangerous to your financial well-being than carrying a credit card balance from month to month. And one generation is especially likely to fall into this trap.

Members of Generation X currently are most likely to carry at least some debt over from one month to the next, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest annual analysis of U.S. family finances, called the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households.

The survey of 11,400 people in late 2023 found that 54% of those ages 45 to 59 carried a balance during at least one month of the prior year. That age group is essentially Gen X, who are generally defined as being 44-59 as of 2024.

Here is the breakdown by age of those who had a credit card and carried a balance at least once in the prior year:

  • Age 18-29: 45%
  • Age 30-44: 53%
  • Age 45-59: 54%
  • Age 60 and older: 39%

Failing to pay off your bill in full at the end of the month is expensive because of the high interest rates that are attached to most credit cards.

Fortunately, carrying a balance does not appear to be a habitual habit for most borrowers. Only around one-quarter of Americans carried a balance most of the time during the prior year.

Carrying a balance was especially rare among Asians, with just 24% of such cardholders carrying a balance at least once. That is much lower than Whites (42%), Hispanics (59%) and Blacks (72%).

The fact that members of Generation X are particularly likely to struggle with credit card debt is just the latest example of financial woes among people of that age group. For more, check out “As the Sun Sets on Gen X Careers, Dark Clouds Gather.”

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