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Credit card debt hits a record high. It's time to make a payoff plan

  • The average American has a credit card balance of $6,375, up nearly 3 percent from last year, according to Experian.
  • Despite rising debt loads, credit scores are also higher.

When it comes to the dangers of high-interest credit card debt, Americans are savvier than ever. That hasn't stopped them from putting more on plastic than ever before.

The average American has a credit card balance of $6,375, up nearly 3 percent from last year, according to Experian's annual study on the state of credit and debt in America. Total credit card debt has reached its highest point ever, surpassing $1 trillion in 2017, according to a separate report by the Federal Reserve.

Nevertheless, the average VantageScore, which was developed by Experian and the other major national credit reporting companies Equifax and TransUnion, is now 675 — the highest in the decade since the Great Recession. (Scores range from 301 to 850, the higher the better.)

As economic satisfaction increases, "consumers are more comfortable spending and confident they can manage any new debt," said Rod Griffin, Experian's director of public education.

Good credit card management boils down to making payments on time and not buying things you otherwise can't afford, he said. (See more strategies in the infographic below.)

"Ride the wave, don't fall off the surfboard, that's the trick," Griffin said.