Credit card use down overall, but many still making minimum payments

A recent Gallup poll indicates that American consumers are using credit cards less than they have in over a decade. Unfortunately, however, overwhelming credit card debt remains an everyday reality for many people in Ohio and throughout the United States. To find relief from these and other debts, thousands of Ohio residents file for bankruptcy protection each year.

Fewer borrowers, fewer cards each

Gallup's random survey of over 1,000 U.S. adults showed that nearly one in three - 29 percent - did not own a credit card. This is the highest proportion of people without credit cards since 2001. Furthermore, among those who do own credit cards, the average number of cards per person was 3.7 in the recent poll, compared to an average of four cards apiece in 2001.

Not only do Americans appear to be using fewer credit cards in recent years, but the recent poll indicates taht those with credit cards are relying on them less than they once did, and are more likely to pay their balances off in full each month. However, the number of borrowers who say they regularly pay the minimum amount due each month - or less - has remained relatively unchanged, suggesting that many people are still struggling to make progress toward paying off their debts.

Paying the minimum - or less

The average credit card debt owed by all credit card users in the recent poll was $3,573, which is significantly less than the average balance of $3,848 seen in 2008.

Nearly one-half of all borrowers (48 percent) said they pay off their entire balance each month, which is more than at any other time since 2001.

Meanwhile, however, 12 percent of credit card users in the recent survey said they typically make only the minimum payments toward their credit card debts every month; in 2001, that number was 11 percent. Furthermore, during both survey periods, one percent of credit card users surveyed said they normally pay less than the minimum amount due.

Ohio debt statistics

Overall, consumers in Ohio have similar debt levels to other borrowers around the country. However, the average debt-to-income ratio is much higher in some areas of Ohio than in the rest of the nation, meaning that many Ohio borrowers may owe more on their credit cards than they can afford to pay off.

People frequently find themselves in this position as a result of relying on credit cards to make ends meet when money is tight, for instance due to an unexpected illness or job loss. Although they hope to get back on their feet again soon and pay off their debts, the situation can easily spin out of control as interest charges begin to pile up.

Talk to a bankruptcy lawyer for debt help

When credit cards and other types of debt get out of hand, the situation is only likely to grow worse unless it is dealt with head on. If you have more debt than you can afford to pay off, bankruptcy may offer a way to make a fresh start. Schedule a consultation with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in your area to find out about your options.