Personal Finance

Your credit card debt could be making you sick

Key Points
  • Not feeling well? It could be your credit card that's making you sick.
  • Americans are taking on ever-increasing amounts of debt and it's harming their overall health and relationships, according to researchers.
JGI | Jamie Grill | Blend Images | Getty Images

Not feeling well? It could be your credit card that's making you sick.

Americans are taking on ever-increasing amounts of debt and it's harming their health and relationships, according to researchers.

The average American has three credit cards and a total balance of $6,506, up slightly from last year, according to Experian's annual study on the state of credit and debt in America.

Outstanding consumer debt now exceeds $4 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve.

At these levels, fewer cardholders can pay their balances in full at the end of each month, according to a report from CompareCards.com, and more than 1 in 3 people said they're afraid they'll max out their credit card when making a large purchase, according to a separate WalletHub survey. (Most of those polled said they considered a large purchase as anything over $100.)

That, in turn, is wearing on many Americans' well-being.

In fact, debt woes are associated with psychological distress and poor overall health, according to a new report by personal finance site CarefulCents.com. Credit card debt is the most stressful of all.

"The cost of debt shouldn't be measured by interest rates alone," said CarefulCents editor Brian Roberts. "There is a psychological cost to be paid, as well."

Further, "anxiety increases as the ratio of credit card debt to income increases," he said.

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Nearly 2 in 5 consumers who have had credit card debt said it affected their general happiness, a study by NerdWallet found. One-third said it negatively affected their standard of living, and 1 in 5 said it harmed their health.

Although money consistently ranks as many Americans' top worry, there can be some relief, according to BlackRock's annual Global Investor Pulse survey.

Those who are saving for a retirement feel better overall than those without a retirement savings plan, the study found.

"Much as physical exercise has both short- and long-term benefits, focusing on retirement planning helps alleviate stress and improves your overall well-being today," BlackRock President Robert Kapito said in a statement.

More from Personal Finance:
Americans are spending more, but are still not saving
Couples say debt is the biggest relationship dealbreaker
Have student debt? There's a new credit card for that

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