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Household Debt Rising in All Categories at End of 2016

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household debt study update

Overall American household debt increased in every loan category during the fourth quarter of 2016, according to NerdWallet research. For households carrying any type of debt, balances increased by 1.83%, or more than $2,000 per household. Every type of debt tracked rose by more than 1%, but the most significant increase was credit card debt, which increased 4.28%, or almost $700 per household.

Average balances for households with each type of debt:

Q3 2016 Q4 2016 Change
Credit cards $16,061 $16,748 +4.28%
Mortgages $172,806 $176,222 +1.98%
Auto loans $28,535 $28,948 +1.45%
Student loans $49,042 $49,905 +1.76%
Any type of debt $132,529 $134,643 +1.60%

“As the growth in price inflation continues to outpace growth in wages, increasing national debt levels are not a surprise,” says Sean McQuay, NerdWallet’s credit and banking expert. “But that’s not an excuse. Individual households need to do what they can to bring their expenses in line with their income. Short-term sacrifices can mean future financial freedom.”

Erin El Issa is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: erin@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @Erin_El_Issa.