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Got Credit? Surprising Credit Card Stats

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A Snapshot of Credit Cards in America

How much debt does the average American consumer carry? How old is their debt? What kind of percentage rate are they paying on that debt? Most importantly, how does it compare to you?As Gail Vaz-Oxlade tackles some of the worst credit-card abusers and spoiled spenders in ," we take a look at the average consumer, the backbone of the American economy.Click ahead to see some of the country's top credit card statistics.
Photo: Vivan Mehra | The India Today Group | Getty Images

How much debt does the average American consumer carry? How old is their debt? What kind of percentage rate are they paying on that debt? Most important, how does it compare to you?

As Gail Vaz-Oxlade tackles some of the worst credit-card abusers and spoiled spenders in CNBC's new series "Princess," we take a look at the average consumer, the backbone of the American economy.

Click ahead to see some of the country's top credit card statistics.

By Constance Parten, Senior Producer
Posted 14 July, 2011

Cards in Circulation

Through year-end 2010, there were more than a billion credit and debit cards in circulation in the United States. Here's the breakdown:American Express credit: 48.9 millionMasterCard credit: 171 million MasterCard debit: 123 millionVisa credit: 269 million (as of Sept. 30, 2010)Visa debit: 397 million (as of Sept. 30, 2010)
Photo: Getty Images

Through year-end 2010, there were more than a billion credit and debit cards in circulation in the United States. Here's the breakdown:

American Express credit: 48.9 million
MasterCard credit: 171 million
MasterCard debit: 123 million
Visa credit: 269 million (as of Sept. 30, 2010)
Visa debit: 397 million (as of Sept. 30, 2010)

Sources: American Express, Mastercard, Visa

Cardholders

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 159 million credit cardholders in the United States in 2000 and 173 million in 2006. That number was expected to top 181 million Americans in 2010.
Photo: Getty Images

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 159 million credit cardholders in the United States in 2000 and 173 million in 2006. That number was expected to top 181 million Americans in 2010.

Average Credit Obligation

About 40 percent of credit cardholders carry a balance of less than $1,000. About 15 percent are far less conservative in their use of credit cards and have total card balances in excess of $10,000. Looking at the total of all credit obligations combined (except mortgage loans), 48 percent of consumers carry less than $5,000 of debt. This includes all credit cards, lines of credit and loans. Nearly 37 percent carry more than $10,000 of non-mortgage debt as reported to the credit bureaus.
Photo: Getty Images

About 40 percent of credit cardholders carry a balance of less than $1,000. About 15 percent are far less conservative in their use of credit cards and have total card balances in excess of $10,000.

Looking at the total of all credit obligations combined (except mortgage loans), 48 percent of consumers carry less than $5,000 of debt. This includes all credit cards, lines of credit and loans. Nearly 37 percent carry more than $10,000 of non-mortgage debt as reported to the credit bureaus.

Source: myfico.com

Best and Worst Credit Scores

The residents of Corpus Christi, Texas, have America's worst credit scores. Meanwhile, the residents of Sioux Falls, S.D., boast America's best credit scores.
Photos: Jeremy Woodhouse | The Image Bank | Getty Images and Elisha Page | Argus Leader

The residents of Corpus Christi, Texas, have America's worst credit scores. Meanwhile, the residents of Sioux Falls, S.D., boast America's best credit scores.

At left, brown pelicans float in the Marina waters with the Corpus Christi skyline in the background; and the old court house clock tower in Sioux Falls.

Source: CreditCards.com

How Much Credit?

The typical consumer has access to approximately $19,000 on all credit cards combined. More than half of all people with credit cards are using less than 30 percent of their total credit card limit. Just over one in seven is using 80 percent or more of their credit card limit.
Photo: Joe Raedle | Getty Images News

The typical consumer has access to approximately $19,000 on all credit cards combined. More than half of all people with credit cards are using less than 30 percent of their total credit card limit. Just over one in seven is using 80 percent or more of their credit card limit.

Source: myfico.com

Lucky 13

On average, today's consumer has a total of 13 credit obligations on record at a credit bureau. These include credit cards (such as department store charge cards, gas cards, and bank cards) and installment loans (auto loans, mortgage loans, student loans, etc.). Not included are savings and checking accounts (typically not reported to a credit bureau). Of these 13 credit obligations, nine are likely to be credit cards and four are likely to be installment loans.
Photo: Getty Images

On average, today's consumer has a total of 13 credit obligations on record at a credit bureau. These include credit cards (such as department store charge cards, gas cards, and bank cards) and installment loans (auto loans, mortgage loans, student loans, etc.).

Not included are savings and checking accounts (typically not reported to a credit bureau). Of these 13 credit obligations, nine are likely to be credit cards and four are likely to be installment loans.

Source: myfico.com

Average Interest Rate

The average interest rate for purchases among a group of credit card holders surveyed by Consumer Action in 2010 across 22 financial institutions was 12.83 percent.That's a drop of more half a point from a 2008 survey. Interest rates on purchases ranged from 4.25 percent to 22.99 percent, with the fixed rate credit cards averaging an interest rate of 10.03 percent and the variable rate credit cards averaging 13.20 percent.
Photo: Bay Ismoyo | AFP | Getty Images

The average interest rate for purchases among a group of credit card holders surveyed by Consumer Action in 2010 across 22 financial institutions was 12.83 percent.That's a drop of more half a point from a 2008 survey.

Interest rates on purchases ranged from 4.25 percent to 22.99 percent, with the fixed rate credit cards averaging an interest rate of 10.03 percent and the variable rate credit cards averaging 13.20 percent.

Source: Consumer Action credit card survey

Very Old Debt

The average consumer's oldest obligation is 14 years old, indicating that he or she has been managing credit for some time. In fact, one out of four consumers had credit histories of 20 years or longer. Only one in 20 consumers had credit histories shorter than two years.
Photo: Gen Nishino | Photographer’s Choice | Getty Images

The average consumer's oldest credit obligation is 14 years old. In fact, one out of four consumers had credit histories of 20 years or longer. Only one in 20 consumers had credit histories shorter than two years.

Source: myfico.com

Rewards Cards

About 60 percent of consumers have a rewards credit card.
Photo: Saeed Khan | AFP | Getty Images

About 60 percent of American consumers have a rewards credit card.

Source: "The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice," Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Princess

Behold theyou know the type — living a fabulous life, while her debt accumulates and family and friends foot the bills. Now it’s time to grow up — and get real.In , Gail Vaz-Oxlade, popular host of the hit series ,tackles the newest generation of spoiled spenders. Over a six-week period, Gail takes away these Princess’s credit cards, puts them on a cash diet and challenges them to start achieving goals.

Behold the Princess — you know the type — living a fabulous life, while her debt accumulates and family and friends foot the bills. Now it’s time to grow up — and get real.

In Princess, Gail Vaz-Oxlade, popular host of the hit series Til Debt Do Us Part,tackles the newest generation of spoiled spenders. Over a six-week period, Gail takes away these princesses' credit cards, puts them on a cash diet and challenges them to start achieving goals.

Princess airs on CNBC on Saturdays, 10p | 1a ET