5 expenses contributing the most to credit card debt in 2022


Racking up credit card debt sounds easy, but getting out of it can be a much more difficult feat.

A recent survey by CreditCards.com revealed that almost half (48%) of respondents continue to carry credit card debt on a monthly basis. Of course, if you don’t pay off your credit card balance in full each month, you’ll accrue interest charges, making those monthly bills a bit more expensive.

However, paying off your credit card can sometimes be easier said than done. Here are the expenses that contribute the most to credit card holders with a balance:

  • 46% of respondents say they have a balance due for an urgent expense (i.e. a surprise medical bill, car repair, home repair, etc.).
  • 24% say everyday expenses, like groceries, childcare and utilities, are the reason they still have credit card debt.
  • 11% of respondents said retail purchases, such as clothing and electronics, were the top reason for carrying a sale.
  • 11% cited vacation and/or entertainment spending as the biggest contributor to their credit card balance.
  • 7% said other expenses were the reason they incurred credit card debt.

Popular Strategies for Paying Off Credit Card Debt

Of course, paying off credit card debt is easier said than done, especially when you have no choice but to swipe your card for daily necessities. But there are some helpful strategies that can make managing your balance easier.

The debt snowball method is a popular strategy for paying off debt faster and involves eliminating the smallest debt balance first while only paying the minimum on all your other debts. Watching those small balances disappear quickly first helps keep you motivated, allowing you to progress to larger amounts until you are completely debt free.

Another strategy, the debt avalanche method, involves eliminating your highest-interest debt first while making minimum payments on others and working your way into debt with the lowest interest rate. This method helps you save the most money on interest charges.

You can also consider using a balance transfer credit card with a 0% APR introductory period to help you make interest-free payments for a limited time. This can be especially helpful if interest charges prevent you from paying down your balance quickly.

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card gives you 0% interest for 21 months on balance transfers (after that, 16.74% – 26.74% variable). You will also pay a 5% transfer fee on each balance you transfer.

The Wells Fargo Reflect® Card offers up to 21 months of 0% APR (after, 15.99% – 27.99% variable). The balance transfer fee for the Reflect card is only 3% if you transfer within 120 days of account opening

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

  • Awards

  • welcome bonus

  • Annual subscription

  • Introduction AVR

    0% for 21 months on balance transfers; 0% for 12 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

  • Balance Transfer Fee

    5% of each balance transfer; At least $5. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Credit needed


  • No annual fee
  • Balances can be transferred within 4 months of account opening
  • One of the longest introductory periods for balance transfers

The inconvenients

  • 3% foreign transaction fee

Wells Fargo Reflect® Card

On the Wells Fargo secure site

  • Awards

  • welcome bonus

  • Annual subscription

  • Introduction AVR

    0% intro APR for 18 months from account opening on eligible purchases and balance transfers. Intro APR 3 month extension with on-time minimum payments during the intro period. 15.99% – 27.99% variable APR thereafter; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the introductory rate

  • Regular APR

    15.99% – 27.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance Transfer Fee

    3% introductory fee ($5 minimum) for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5% ($5 minimum)

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Credit needed

Debt consolidation is another popular method of paying off debt if you have balances on multiple credit cards. With debt consolidation, you are essentially applying for a loan large enough to cover the total amount of debt on all your credit cards (usually through a personal lender). Then, once you’re approved, the lender will send the financing amount to your creditors, essentially paying off your credit cards. From there, you will simply be responsible for repaying the loan you borrowed.

This method keeps your debt payments organized because they’re consolidated into one monthly payment, but you can also potentially save on interest since personal lenders typically offer much lower interest rates than credit card issuers.

The Marcus by Goldman Sachs personal loan is one of the best debt consolidation loans because this lender will send your funds directly to up to 10 creditors.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    6.99% to 24.99% APR when you sign up for autopay

  • Purpose of the loan

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, wedding, moving and moving or vacation

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Assembly costs

  • Prepayment penalty

  • Late charge

Other Considerations

If you’re using a credit card to stretch your budget to pay for things like groceries and utilities, it might be time to consider asking for a raise or moving to a better-paying job. A credit card offers a temporary option, but increasing your salary may be a more sustainable solution to meet more expensive needs.

A higher income can also help you get out of debt faster, as you may have room in your budget to make higher monthly payments.

And when it comes to paying for those emergency expenses — like a surprise medical bill or an unexpected car repair — if you haven’t already considered setting up an emergency fund, now might be the time. . An emergency fund can help you take on less debt to cover expenses you don’t see coming.

Most experts recommend an emergency fund that covers at least three to six months of necessary expenses, but setting a smaller goal — like $1,000 — can be a little more motivating because it’s easier to achieve.

Save all the money you received for your birthday or any other occasion. Reevaluate your recurring expenses (like subscriptions) and cancel any that you don’t use or no longer make sense to you. Then take the money you save each month and redirect it to a savings account instead. This will help you build your emergency fund faster. See Select’s other tips for finding extra money on a tight budget.

At the end of the line

Emergency expenses and daily necessities currently contribute the most to people’s credit card balances. This is perhaps not surprising since the costs of many products, including groceries, have increased over the months and it is now more expensive for individuals and families to buy some of the same items they usually buy.

While paying off credit card debt is easier said than done, strategies such as the snowball method, the avalanche method, debt consolidation, and using a transfer card balance can help make managing your debt a little more organized.

Editorial note: Any opinions, analyses, criticisms or recommendations expressed in this article are those of Select’s editorial staff alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise endorsed by any third party.


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