Younger Americans are racking up credit card debt faster than older generations. In the time since the U.S. economy came to a pandemic-induced halt in the spring of 2020, their credit card debt has grown more on average, while older generations have seen reductions in average credit card debt balances, according to Experian.
To better understand how credit card use compares across generations, Experian analyzed spending habits among different age groups using data from the first quarter (Q1) of 2022—the most recent data available. As it turns out, it’s older generations that have been able to pay down more credit card debt in recent years. The Silent Generation, born from 1928 to 1945, and baby boomers, born from 1946 to 1964, also have the highest average credit scores of any generation.
But nobody uses credit like Gen Xers, who are entering or already in their peak earning years. Born between 1965 and 1981, they have carried an average credit card debt of $7,000 since the beginning of the pandemic.
All adults under the age of 42 are accounted for among millennials and Generation Z—the oldest members of Gen Z are turning 25 this year and the oldest millennials are turning 41. It’s these younger Americans whose average credit card debt has increased the most compared to other generations over the past two years.
Read on to learn more about which U.S. consumers are carrying the most credit debt—and how credit card habits change across generations.