Americans are falling behind on credit card payments. Here's who can help.

Like millions of Americans, a young consumer wonders how she is going to pay all of her bills this month - ConsumerAffairs

Serious credit card delinquencies were about 7% in the first quarter

With inflation continuing to rise, albeit at slower pace, Americans are struggling to pay their bills. The latest evidence is in a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The report shows total household debt increased by $184 billion in the first quarter of 2024, to $17.69 trillion as some inflation-weary consumers continued using credit cards to make ends meet. In the first quarter of 2024, that rising debt began to catch up with many households.

“In the first quarter of 2024, credit card and auto loan transition rates into serious delinquency continued to rise across all age groups,” said Joelle Scally, regional economic principal within the Household and Public Policy Research Division at the New York Fed. “An increasing number of borrowers missed credit card payments, revealing worsening financial distress among some households.”

Credit card balances, with average interest rates north of 20%, are among the most toxic debt and the Fed’s figures who that category of debt is taking its toll. As Americans added $129 billion to credit card balances in the first quarter, delinquencies of 90 days or more increased from 4.57% to 6.86%.

Where to find help

There are plenty of organizations that can offer advice and help to consumers who are drowning in debt. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) is a non-profit organization that can refer consumers to non-profit credit counselors across the U.S.

Sometimes, just talking to someone about debt can be helpful. NFCC says in a typical 30-minute to one-hour session, an NFCC Certified Counselor will speak with you about your current financial circumstances and help create an actionable plan to tackle your debt. There may be a small fee but there are no loans and no hidden fees.

In addition to non-profit counselors, there are businesses that, for a fee, can provide various debt management services. The ConsumerAffairs Research Team has looked into many of these firms and provides reviews of debt consolidation loan companies, debt management plans and credit counselors

You'll find an overview of available support resources for consumers struggling with debt here, along with verified consumer reviews.

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