LendEdu: Credit Card Debt Packs a Stress Wallop

March 26, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

American borrowers—just American borrowers so far—are currently carrying just shy of $12 billion in credit card debt. It’s a seven-year high in terms of overdue credit card payments, and that brings with it a certain level of stress. A new study from LendEDU is filling us in on how much stress one of the earliest mobile payments systems can bring along with it.

LendEDU built its study around 1,000 credit card holders in the United States who were currently carrying a balance of over $5,000. When they say “over $5,000,” they meant it, too: the average respondent’s debt load was $13,884. If that’s already got you gasping a bit in sympathetic shock, then you might want to sit down for the rest of the study’s findings.

Stress among debtors is huge; 88.6 percent found at least “some level of stress” in life based on their debt, and better than a third—33.7 percent—believed that stress was an everyday affair. Lost sleep, headaches, muscle tension and even stomach problems have been cited to varying degrees. It’s also having an impact on people’s social lives: 38.7 percent find that debt has stressed their relationships with friends and family, and 42.2 percent have had to delay the process of buying a home thanks to that debt.

There’s some good news here, though: 82.2 percent are actively trying to pay down that debt, and 60.6 percent believe they’ll be free of credit card debt at some point.

The problem is that there’s also a certain segment of the population who isn’t trying to throw over debt and doesn’t believe they will ever get free of it. This is a problem not just for the debtor but also for the lender; that debt is on the books, and represents a chunk of change parked with the debtor that needs to be recovered. If it’s not, it’s a loss…for the lender.

This should be a wake-up call not just to borrowers about the risks of getting in too deep, but also to lenders about the possibilities of helping out on this front. Extending terms, reducing rates, and similar matters might be called for to at least address some of this. No one wins when debt has to be written off.