Americans are living in the red to the tune of almost $1 trillion. That’s how much we collectively could owe on our credit cards by the end of 2017, according to an analysis by financial website WalletHub. In fact, we’ve managed to work our way back up to levels of debt similar to those seen at the end of 2008, just as the Great Recession was walloping American budgets.
The $940 billion Americans owe Visa, Mastercard, and American Express works out to a tab of $8,038 per U.S. household, WalletHub calculated. But not everyone is drowning in debt. Some people are able to use their credit cards responsibly, it turns out.
Credit score website Credit Sesame recently compared its members who have credit card debt to those who have credit cards but carry a $0 balance. What it discovered was pretty striking. The people who resisted running up credit card debt seemed to have a healthier financial picture overall, with smaller balances on many other types of loans, such as car loans and mortgages, higher credit scores, and fewer open card accounts.
Zero-balance credit users are a pretty rare breed though. Only 9% of Credit Sesame users didn’t carry a balance on their cards. That makes us wonder: What are these debt-free people doing differently from the majority of Americans, and what could they teach the less fiscally responsible among us about managing credit? Let’s dig into the data to find out.