Credit card usage in the US has been on the rise in the past decade. According to Woolsey and Schulz (2012) a survey conducted in 2007 indicated that 97% of American consumers use their credit cards to buy goods and services. Further, as per 2008 records, more than 176 million Americans had credit cards. In addition, as per 2010 statistics, Americans had a credit card debt of $2.43 trillion. According to Good Morning America (2005), a majority of Americans have credit card debt. The estimated figures indicate that an average American has a credit card debt of $9,000. These figures are quite alarming considering that it has been postulated that the use of credit cards is a habit that kick starts in college and is doomed to persist throughout one’s life (Good Morning America, 2005). There are various reasons that have contributed to the increasing credit card debt as discussed in the subsequent paragraphs.
One reason that has contributed to the increasing credit card debt involves lack of individual financial knowledge. This has impacted on the individual’s spending habits. Good Morning America (2005) reports that most Americans are avid users of credit cards as opposed to cash. This habit leads to the culture of overspending beyond one’s annual income thus, contributing to credit card debt. Norvilitis and Maria (2002) report that, most students incur credit card debts because of their anticipation to make money after they finish college. As a result, they end up spending money that they don’t have.
Norvilitis and Maria (2002) argue that credit card companies have contributed immensely to the rising credit card debt by providing incentives to entice people to apply for credit cards. Some of the incentives offered include a low monthly repayment policy with low interest rates (Good Morning America, 2005). Further, most credit card companies have relinquished some of their requirements in order to encourage more people to apply for credit cards. This has been a major contributor towards encouraging people to own more than one credit card irrespective of their credit card status with other credit card companies. As a result, this has contributed to multiple debts with different credit card companies hence, adding on the overall debt. Further, in their quest to make more money, credit card companies are known to target clients who can least afford to repay them back for instance, students therefore, contributing to accrual of debt (Norvilitis & Maria, 2002).
Woolsey and Schulz (2012) report that most credit card holders are not aware of their credit card interest rates, a situation that has also contributed to the rising debt. It is estimated that on average, most credit cards interest rates range from 10% to 22%. In addition, more than 72% of credit card companies are willing to revoke their promotional interest rates which are generally low incase their client fails to repay them once. With the emergence of the financial crunch, the interest rates have been on the rise therefore, putting more pressure on credit card users who fail to repay their debt on time.
Woolsey and Schulz (2012) report that payment trends have changed with time. This has been attributed to the increasing number of online transactions that allow consumers to purchase goods online at a subsidized price using credit cards. In their quest to make more sales, most stores have resulted to advertising their goods on their websites or other avenues in the internet in order to entice people to buy their products and services. All these moves are meant to persuade people to buy goods that they cannot afford hence, increasing their debts to the credit card companies (Good Morning America, 2005).