Older Americans Have More Credit Card Debt Than Younger Americans, Survey Says

January 16, 2013 Updated Jan 16, 2013 at 7:50 PM EDT

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Older Americans Have More Credit Card Debt Than Younger Americans, Survey Says

January 16, 2013 Updated Jan 16, 2013 at 7:50 PM EDT

Elderly Americans are carrying more credit card debt, according to a new survey.

The survey reports the main reason is due to job loss and medical bills, not because of a lack of financial responsibility.

The study looked at 997 middle-income households that were carrying credit card debt for at least three months. Of the respondents, households age 50 and older had an average credit card balance of $8,278 compared to an average debt of $6,258 for households under age 50.

The Demos' 2012 National Survey on Credit Card Debt of Low- and Middle-Income Households was done on behalf of AARP. The survey also found:

* Half of the older households were carrying medical expenses, such as prescription drugs and dental expenses, on their credit card accounts.

* 34 percent of the older households were using their credit cards to pay for basic living expenses such as groceries, utilities and housing costs.

* Job loss was a factor in running up credit card debt in nearly 25 percent of the older households.

* But the older households have a much bigger heart than the younger households: 23 percent have taken on credit card debt to help other family members versus 11 percent of the younger households.

The study can be found at http://www.demos.org/publication/red-older-americans-and-credit-card-debt