Money Matters: Where to find data on credit card debt

July 5, 2019 11:00

Sponsored by NEFE

Most consumer reporters probably know about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). But the CFPB is a source for more than scam alerts. It also conducts research. About once or twice a month, the government agency drops a new report on its press page. These reports can be an excellent source for consumer story ideas.

Just this week, the CFPB released an analysis of more than eight years’ worth of credit card data. The report examines credit card revolving.  That’s when rather than pay your credit card balance in full each month, you use the credit card to borrow, paying only a portion of what you owe and accruing interest on the outstanding balance.

The report found that 2/3 of active credit card accounts carry a balance and they do so for, on average, 10 months.  The data show that 15 percent of credit card accounts have carried an outstanding balance for two years or more. 

The longer a balance is carried, according to the report, the more likely it is to continue to revolve, or carry a balance. 

How those balances are repaid vary, but not based on credit score.

That suggests people with good credit are just as in need of financial education on paying down debt as those with less stellar credit.

Interestingly, the report found that how people repay credit card debt is much more directly related to where they live than to their credit scores.

For example, credit card holders in the South are more likely to carry over credit card balances month to month. However, they pay those balances back quicker than those in the Midwest. Take a look. How do credit card holders in your area compare?

Bookmark the CFPB press page and take a look at the reports available there. They’ll often yield interesting story ideas that you can easily localize!

Enter your consumer finance stories for the RTDNA/NEFE Personal Finance Reporting Awards

Three winners  – representing digital, radio and TV news – will each receive:
  • A $1,000 prize
  • Complimentary registration to the Excellence in Journalism 2019 conference in San Antonio
  • Travel and hotel expenses
  • The opportunity to present your winning work at a conference session
Entries are due July 18.
 2019 NEFE


2019 Research