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Trends in credit card debt

Many Arkansas residents slowed their spending following the financial crisis in 2008, but the last few months have seen a small increase in overall credit card usage, According to the Federal Reserve, as of July 2014, outstanding consumer debt, which includes student loans and credit cards but not mortgages, totaled $3.24 trillion. The amount of revolving debt, mainly from credit cards, was $880.5 billion.

In general there are two types of credit card users. Some holders use their credit cards to make purchases but pay off their full balance each month. They may not consider these balances to be debt because they do not accrue interest. On the other hand are those who carry a balance from month to month on their cards, and one in three households in the U.S. have revolving debt and thus fall into this class, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

A recent study showed that there are a variety of indications that low- and middle-income families are more likely to have credit card debt. Households where a family member lacked insurance, where someone had been unemployed or had children under the age of 18 were more likely to owe balances on credit cards.

While credit cards can act as a safety net to help deal with unexpected expenses, such as vehicle repairs or medical bills, they can become a burden when someone is not able to handle what they owe. If individuals have debt beyond their ability to stay current, and debt settlement has failed, filing for bankruptcy may enable them to get rid of their credit card debt and start fresh. A bankruptcy attorney can assist clients in determining the best type of filing and help them throughout the process.

Source: NASDAQ, "Credit card debt statistics", September 23, 2014

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