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Good Question: How Much Are We Charging?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- U.S. consumers are using credit cards at the fastest pace in more than a decade.

It got us wondering how much we are charging.

And who's carrying a credit card balance? Good Question.

People who habitually carry a balance from month to month, their credit card debt is about $16,000 on average.

"It kind of surprised me that it was a spike, but it doesn't surprise me that there's sort of been an upward trend since the Great Recession," said David Vang of the University of St. Thomas.

Vang is a professor of finance at St. Thomas.

"It goes across all segments of society but there are certain groups that tend to use it the most," said Vang.

Vang said baby boomers have more credit cards than anyone, about 2.6 cards per person. But he said they have the highest card balances because they can afford to.

"Millenials tend to use the least number of credit cards. Maybe less than two cards," said Vang.

Vang said millennials and senior citizens are typically on fixed incomes so they're not looking to charge away. Still, there are reasons why all age groups are trending towards plastic.

One consumer on Nicollet Mall said he uses his credit for "mainly just points."

Convenience, perks and travel points can add up. But at the same time -- so can credit card debt.

"I would typically say if you can't pay off the balance in one month you probably shouldn't be carrying that high of a balance because there are other debt sources cheaper," said Vang.

Vang told us the spike in credit card usage could be one of two things -- either consumers are more confident or people are having to use their credit cards out of necessity to pay some of their bills.

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