Gen-Z are reeling in credit card debt

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Young Americans are starting out with more credit-card debt than generations before them. That financial burden can have long-lasting effects.

The rising debt load largely reflects a surge in prices for food and shelter at the start of their careers, coupled with a larger percentage of Gen Z who graduated with student loans. The average credit-card balance for 22- to 24-year-olds was $2,834 in the last quarter of 2023, compared with an average inflation-adjusted balance of $2,248 in the same period in 2013, according to new data from credit-reporting agency TransUnion TRU 3.46%increase; green up pointing triangle.

Younger people with higher debt are more delinquent on credit-card payments and need to rely on family for help if they lose their job, say economists and financial advisers. They also often delay life milestones, including homeownership and marriage, say the economists.

“This is a generation that is feeling financial stress in a more acute way than millennials did a decade ago,” said Charlie Wise, head of global research at TransUnion.

Lindsay Quackenbush was recently working for a publishing company that paid her $60,000 a year. The money was just enough for the 26-year-old to cover her portion of the rent for the New York City basement apartment where she and her boyfriend live. Then she was laid off.

She is carrying a balance of about $1,700 across three credit cards and is for the first time not able to pay off her credit cards in full. She is making the minimum payment for now while she hunts for a new job.

As for thinking about milestones such as marriage and children, she and her friends have discussed putting anything like that off until they are in a more financially stable position. “Who knows when that will be?” she said.


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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!