Living Large

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Did you know that more than 40 percent of American families spend more than they earn? Close to 24 percent of personal expenditures in the United States are made using bank credit cards, retail credit cards and debit cards, according to the CardWeb.com Web site provided by Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Canton and Akron, Ohio.

Other statistics listed on the site:

• 20 percent of Americans have maxed out their credit cards.
• 25 percent of adults in the United States have a history of credit problems.
• Average credit card debt is $8,400 per household in the United States.
• As of 2002, total credit debt was $660 billion.
• About 185 million Americans have at least one credit card.
• 1.3 million credit card holders declared bankruptcy in 2002.
• The average household pays $83.33 in credit card interest each month.
• The typical credit card purchase is 112 percent higher than if using cash.
• As of 1995, 92 percent of a family’s disposable income is spent on debt payments, up from 65 percent in 1975.
• A balance of $8,000 with an interest rate of 18 percent will take more than 25 years to pay and cost more than $24,000 if only minimum payments are made.

Meanwhile, card issuers are rolling out new cards ahead of the holidays, aiming at a range of consumers from high school students to New Yorkers to big spenders. Citibank’s PremierPass MasterCard tops the list of 12 new products, with points for flying and buying, followed by the AmEx/Costco True Earnings Card, which offers a cash-back bonus for eating and traveling. The Gap Card, in third place, earns the user combined rewards for spending in three different stores. Rounding out the top five are the AmEx IN:NYC Card for New Yorkers and the Charles Schwab/MBNA Visa, which enables carriers to redeem points for equity trades and free air travel.