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Americans Now Have the Highest Credit Card Debt in History

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Americans are now under more revolving debt than at any point in history, with the current collective outstanding credit reaching $1.021 trillion dollars.

Revolving debt, usually just summarized as credit card debt, actually includes home equity lines of credit and personal lines of credit as well as credit cards. The current debt total exceeds the previous record set in April 2008, which measured $1.02 trillion dollars. 

Matt Schultz, a senior analyst at Creditcards.com, says that this new record should serve as a wakeup call for the American consumer. 

“This record should serve as a wake-up call to Americans to focus on their credit card debt. Even if you feel your debt is manageable right now, know that you could be one unexpected emergency away from real trouble."

Also at a record high is the number of people with access to credit cards. Currently, over 171 million consumers have access to credit cards, particularly ones backed by major banks, beating out the record set in 2005 when 161 million consumers had access.

Market Watch says this may be due to individuals with below-average credit scores being approved for credit cards: 

"For the first time since the Great Recession, lenders have given more consumers with sub-prime, or below average, credit scores, access to credit cards, but they are giving them lower spending limits, according to the credit reporting agency TransUnion."

One final record that's been set so far in 2017 is the collective household debt balance, which has exceeded another milestone reached in the middle of the Great Recession. According to a Federal Reserve report, the collective household debt balances sit at $12.73 trillion as of March 2017, exceeding the previous record of $12.68 trillion in 2008.

Fiscal responsibility for the win.