In the new millennium plastic money or credit cards has rendered a new zing factor to your pocket. This has not only made you economically more flexible but subsequently added glamour to your financial image as well. No more bulging out hip pockets with excess of liquid cash. Instead, the slimmer your pocket; the smarter you look. But behind all these inviting attributes of credit cards there seems to be a trap laid out for people who are impulsive and careless.
The usage of credit cards have been on the highest spree this decade and along with the usage, the debt rates has also somersaulted sky high. Majority of the citizens of the U.S. owe thousands of dollars as credit card bills. While gross dollar volume on bank credit cards has increased 2.5 times since 1994, the average transaction has increased about 16% over the past decade. The average transaction on a general purpose credit card, carrying the VISA, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover brand, is now approaching $102, compared to $87 in 1994.
23rd Dec. 2004 is termed as Black Thursday and is poised to be a voluminous day in credit card usage in 2004. On this day Americans have used credit and debit cards to pay for nearly $12 billion. This computes to an average of more than $8 million per minute; however it could easily top $20 million per minute during peak hours.
In the present era credit card debt carried by an average American is about $8,562 (Approx.). The total U.S. credit card debt in the first quarter of 2002 was approximately $60 billion (Approx.). Total finance charges Americans paid in 2001is $50 billion (Approx.).
Recently, the New York Times examined how the use of credit has taken off dramatically in the United States since 1990. While the number of people holding charge cards grew about 75 percent. This went up from 82 million in 1990 to 144 million in 2003 and the amount they charged during that period grew by a much larger percentage. It is approximately 350 percent, from $338 billion to $1.5 trillion.
Nellie Mae, the nation’s largest maker of student loans says that the average undergraduate student has $2,200 in credit card debt. That figure jumps to $5,800 for graduate students. David Sandor, a vice president at Visa USA, says that only 54 percent of college students pay off their credit card balances every month.
The average credit card interest rate is around 18.9%. Approximately half of all credit card holders pay only their minimum monthly requirements. There are a total of 1.2 billion credit and retail cards in North America. The number of credit card holders who declared bankruptcy last year was a huge 1.3 million.
Credit cards have undoubtedly given us better mileage in handling our finance; it has made us mobile and flexible in cash handling. But it is extremely important to make proper utilization of this plastic money. There lies a big black trench of debts if you use it recklessly. These slim plastic cards can often be the cause of bulk debts if one is impulsive or unwise.