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Americans Paid an Estimated $25 Billion More in Credit Card Interest and Fees in 2022 Than in 2021

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Many Americans are no strangers to the financial burden of credit card debt — and as interest rates climbed throughout 2022, that burden grew heavier. In fact, Americans paid an estimated $133.1 billion in credit card interest and fees to banks, credit unions and finance companies in 2022 — a 23.1% (or $25.0 billion) increase from 2021, according to the latest LendingTree study.

Here’s what else we found.

On this page

Key findings

  • Americans paid an estimated $133.1 billion in credit card interest and fees to banks, credit unions and finance companies in 2022. This was a 23.1% (or $25.0 billion) increase from an estimated $108.1 billion in 2021.
  • In the fourth quarter of 2022 alone, Americans paid an estimated $39.0 billion in credit card interest and fees to financial institutions — an 11.8% increase from the previous quarter. During the fourth quarter, this equaled $424.1 million daily.
  • Americans paid an estimated $69.11 in interest and fees for each credit card account in the fourth quarter of 2022, or $23.04 monthly. This was a 29.0% increase from the fourth quarter of 2021, when Americans paid $53.57, or $17.86 monthly. 191 million Americans have at least one credit card account, for a total of 564.5 million accounts.
  • California residents paid an estimated $17.1 billion in credit card interest and fees in 2022, followed by Texas ($11.8 billion) and Florida ($10.6 billion) residents. Conversely, Wyoming ($215.5 million), Vermont ($238.1 million) and North Dakota ($288.1 million) residents were at the bottom.

Americans paid an estimated $133.1 billion in credit card interest and fees in 2022

The cost associated with accumulating credit card debt is on the rise for Americans. In 2022, consumers paid an estimated $133.1 billion in credit card interest and fees to banks, credit unions and finance companies — a steep 23.1% (or $25.0 billion) increase from an estimated $108.1 billion in 2021, when owed credit card interest and fees were at their lowest dating to 2018.

Before 2022, credit card interest and fees declined for two consecutive years. The only other year in this period that saw an increase in credit card fees — 2019, when paid interest and fees rose by 6.3% — was also the year that credit card interest and fees were at their highest, with consumers paying $134.1 billion to financial institutions.

Total interest and fees paid on credit cards (by year)

YearTotal interest and fees paid on credit cards$ change% change
2018$126.1 billionN/AN/A
2019$134.1 billion$8.0 billion6.3%
2020$118.2 billion-$15.8 billion-11.8%
2021$108.1 billion-$10.1 billion-8.5%
2022$133.1 billion$25.0 billion23.1%

Source: LendingTree analysis of Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) and Federal Reserve data. Note: Changes are displayed with one decimal point though unrounded numbers were used for calculations.

Why did paid fees and interest spike so much in 2022? According to LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz, Federal Reserve rate hikes are likely to blame here.

“When you combine the seven interest rate increases from the Fed in 2022 with rampant inflation, you’ll find that more people were forced to rely on their credit cards,” he says. “That made it harder for them to pay their bills in full each month, creating a massive jump in the amount of interest that credit cardholders paid. Unfortunately, that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. The Fed isn’t expected to lower rates until late this year at the earliest and perhaps not until next year. So it’s important for people to prioritize paying down their high-interest credit card debt as soon as possible.”

The Federal Reserve funds rate remained low from 2018 through 2021. The Fed’s target rate was 1.25% to 1.50% heading into 2018 before dropping to 0.00% to 0.25% in March 2020, where it stayed until March 2022. Seven rate hikes in 2022 put the target rate at 4.25% to 4.50% by the end of the year. Each time the target rate rises, credit card interest rates generally increase by the same rate.

Americans paid an estimated $39.0 billion in interest and fees in the fourth quarter of 2022

Although the amount consumers paid in credit card interest and fees rose dramatically in 2022, a quarterly look paints a clearer picture. In fact, Americans paid the most in interest and credit card fees in the fourth quarter, paying an estimated $39.0 billion to financial institutions — or $424.1 million a day. That’s an 11.8% increase from the previous quarter.

While Americans paid the highest amount in the fourth quarter, interest and credit card fees rose the highest percentage in the third quarter. During this quarter, Americans paid an estimated $34.9 billion in credit card interest and fees — a 15.0% increase from $30.3 billion in the second quarter.

Total interest and fees paid on credit cards (by quarter, 2022)

QuarterTotal interest and fees paid on credit cards% changeMonthly interest and fees paidDaily interest and fees paid
Q1 2022$28.8 billion1.3%$9.6 billion$320.4 million
Q2 2022$30.3 billion5.2%$10.1 billion$333.4 million
Q3 2022$34.9 billion15.0%$11.6 billion$379.3 million
Q4 2022$39.0 billion11.8%$13.0 billion$424.1 million

Source: LendingTree analysis of FFIEC and Federal Reserve data.

Let’s break that down even further. Per day, that’s an estimated $69.11 in interest and fees for each credit card account in the fourth quarter of 2022 — or $23.04 monthly. This was a 29.0% increase from the fourth quarter of 2021, when Americans paid $53.57, or $17.86 monthly.

Interest and fees paid per credit card account

QuarterTotal interest and fees paid on credit cardsNumber of credit card accountsMonthly interest and fees paid per accountDaily interest and fees paid per account
Q1 2021$26.8 billion505,670,000$17.65$52.96
Q2 2021$25.6 billion511,610,000$16.65$49.94
Q3 2021$27.3 billion519,960,000$17.51$52.53
Q4 2021$28.5 billion531,540,000$17.86$53.57
Q1 2022$28.8 billion537,110,000$17.89$53.68
Q2 2022$30.3 billion549,870,000$18.39$55.17
Q3 2022$34.9 billion555,360,000$20.95$62.84
Q4 2022$39.0 billion564,500,000$23.04$69.11

Source: LendingTree analysis of New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax and FFIEC data.

Again, Schulz says, the Fed’s rate hikes likely play a role here — though holiday spending may have exacerbated the amount Americans paid financial institutions.

“Holiday spending and travel always make the fourth quarter a spendy time for Americans, and that was no different in 2022,” he says. “However, 2022 was unique in that the Fed raised rates three-quarters of a percentage point each in three of the four months leading up to the quarter. That led to a massive increase in the average APR on all credit cards, including those accruing interest.”

The average APR for credit card accounts assessed interest was 20.40% in the fourth quarter of 2022 — up 24.1% from a year earlier, when the average APR was 16.44%.

With such high interest rates, consumers may be more likely to fall behind on their payments. In fact, according to the Federal Reserve, the credit card delinquency rate in October 2022 was 2.25%, up from 1.57% in October 2021.

California residents paid an estimated $17.1 billion in interest and fees in 2022 — here’s how other states compare

California residents paid the most in credit card interest and fees in 2022 at an estimated $17.1 billion. That’s followed by Texas ($11.8 billion) and Florida ($10.6 billion) residents.

This boils down to population size, as the three states have the largest populations in the U.S.

States that paid the most in credit card interest and fees in 2022

RankStateTotal interest and fees paid on credit cards
1California$17.1 billion
2Texas$11.8 billion
3Florida$10.6 billion
4New York$8.8 billion
5 (tie)Pennsylvania$5.1 billion
5 (tie)Illinois$5.1 billion

Source: LendingTree analysis of New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax and FFIEC data.

On the other end of the list, Wyoming ranked last. Residents here paid just $215.5 million in credit card interest and fees. That’s followed by Vermont ($238.1 million) and North Dakota ($288.1 million) residents.

Each of these states has fewer than 800,000 residents. More specifically, Wyoming and Vermont have the lowest and second-lowest populations, respectively, while North Dakota has the fifth-lowest.

States that paid the least in credit card interest and fees in 2022

RankStateTotal interest and fees paid on credit cards
1Wyoming$215.5 million
2Vermont$238.1 million
3North Dakota$288.1 million
4South Dakota$292.9 million
5Alaska$325.9 million

Source: LendingTree analysis of New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax and FFIEC data.

Full rankings

States that paid the most/least in credit card interest and fees in 2022

RankStateTotal interest and fees paid on credit cards
1California$17.1 billion
2Texas$11.8 billion
3Florida$10.6 billion
4New York$8.8 billion
5 (tie)Pennsylvania$5.1 billion
5 (tie)Illinois$5.1 billion
7 (tie)New Jersey$4.5 billion
7 (tie)Georgia$4.5 billion
9Ohio$4.1 billion
10 (tie)North Carolina$4.0 billion
10 (tie)Virginia$4.0 billion
12Michigan$3.5 billion
13Washington$3.4 billion
14 (tie)Massachusetts$3.0 billion
14 (tie)Maryland$3.0 billion
16Arizona$2.9 billion
17Colorado$2.6 billion
18Tennessee$2.3 billion
19Minnesota$2.2 billion
20 (tie)Indiana$2.1 billion
20 (tie)Missouri$2.1 billion
22South Carolina$2.0 billion
23Wisconsin$1.9 billion
24Connecticut$1.7 billion
25 (tie)Oregon$1.6 billion
25 (tie)Alabama$1.6 billion
27Louisiana$1.5 billion
28Nevada$1.4 billion
29 (tie)Kentucky$1.3 billion
29 (tie)Oklahoma$1.3 billion
31Utah$1.2 billion
32Iowa$992.9 million
33Kansas$985.3 million
34Arkansas$905.3 million
35Mississippi$825.5 million
36New Mexico$669.5 million
37Hawaii$660.1 million
38Nebraska$654.5 million
39Idaho$640.0 million
40New Hampshire$616.0 million
41West Virginia$541.6 million
42Maine$501.6 million
43Rhode Island$446.5 million
44Delaware$431.3 million
45Montana$405.7 million
46District of Columbia$343.9 million
47Alaska$325.9 million
48South Dakota$292.9 million
49North Dakota$288.1 million
50Vermont$238.1 million
51Wyoming$215.5 million

Source: LendingTree analysis of New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax and FFIEC data.

Reducing and avoiding credit card interest and fees: Top expert tips

Yes, interest rates are sky-high, even by credit card standards. However, Schulz says, the good news is that cardholders have options. Particularly, he recommends the following:

  • Consider a 0% balance transfer credit card. “These are perhaps the best weapon in a cardholder’s battle against credit card debt,” he says. “You’ll need good credit to get one, but if you can get one, it can allow you to go 12 to 15 months or more without accruing any interest on the transferred balance. That’s a big deal. It can dramatically reduce the amount of interest you pay, and it can also seriously shorten the overall payoff time. You’ll likely have to pay a fee of 3% to 5% with every transfer, but it’s still well worth it.”
  • Call your card issuer and ask for a lower rate. “No, really — it works more often than you’d think,” he says. “A recent LendingTree survey on lowering APRs found that 76% of cardholders who asked for a lower APR in the past year got one. That’s true even though the Fed raised interest rates consistently throughout the year. It’s absolutely worth your time to make a call. After all, with that sort of success rate, it’s likely not just folks with 800 credit scores and long track records getting their way.”

Methodology

Researchers analyzed data from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) to determine how much Americans paid in credit card interest and fees to banks in 2022.

Using the G.19 consumer credit report from the Federal Reserve, researchers calculated the estimated interest and fees paid on credit cards not only to banks but also to credit unions and finance companies.

To determine interest paid at the state level, researchers used New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax data on credit card debt balances per capita.

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