What is 'Credit Card Debt'

Credit card debt is a type of unsecured liability which is incurred through revolving credit card loans. Borrowers can accumulate credit card debt by opening numerous credit card accounts with varying terms and credit limits. All of a borrower’s credit card accounts will be reported and tracked by credit bureaus. The majority of outstanding debt on a borrower’s credit report is typically credit card debt since these accounts are revolving and remain open indefinitely.

BREAKING DOWN 'Credit Card Debt'

Credit card debt can be useful for borrowers seeking to make purchases which allow for deferred payment over time. This type of debt does carry some of the industry’s highest interest rates. However, credit card borrowers do have the option to payoff their balances each month in order to save on interest over the long term.

Credit Card Debt Benefits

Credit cards are one of the most popular forms of revolving credit and as such offer numerous benefits for borrowers. Credit cards are issued with revolving credit limits that borrowers can utilize as needed. Payments are typically much lower than a standard non-revolving loan. Users also have the option to payoff balances to avoid high interest costs. Additionally, most credit cards come with reward incentives such as cash back or points that can be used toward future purchases or even to pay down outstanding balances.

Credit Bureau Reporting and Analysis

Generally credit card debt refers to the accumulated outstanding balances that many borrowers carry over from month to month. Lenders report credit card debt level balances to credit bureaus each month along with a borrower’s relevant credit activity. Thus, credit cards can be a great way for borrowers to build out a positive credit profile over time. However, negative activity such as delinquent payments, high balances and a high number of hard inquiries in a short period of time can also lead to problems for credit card borrowers.

Credit card debt is highly influential in determining a borrower’s credit score since it will typically account for a significant portion of credit utilization on a borrower’s credit profile. Credit bureaus track each individual credit account by itemized trade lines on a credit report. The aggregation of outstanding credit card debt from these trade lines sums to a borrower’s total credit card debt which is used by credit bureaus to calculate credit utilization, an important component of a borrower’s credit score.

Lenders will also report a borrower’s payment activity to credit bureaus each month with delinquent payments detracting from a borrower’s credit score and on time payments helping to maintain an individual’s credit score. Maintaining on time payments helps a borrower to achieve a higher credit score and qualify for better lending terms.

Since credit card utilization is also a factor in a borrower’s credit score, paying down substantial portions of outstanding credit card debt is one of the best ways a borrower can rapidly improve their credit score. Keeping credit card balance low will also help a borrower to maintain a good credit score.

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