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South Carolina credit card debt reaches record amounts

Having a credit card in one's wallet may provide a sense of security. What if one has an emergency, runs short of cash or comes across an unbeatable bargain? However, according to new data from the Federal Reserve, many in South Carolina and across the country may be placing themselves in financial jeopardy by carrying a high balance on those credit cards.

The report shows that Americans now carry a record-breaking $1 trillion in credit card debt. The average family credit card balance has risen to $9,600, which is about 17 percent of the average income for a U.S. household. Some credit card carriers may be paying as much as 24 percent interest on their balances. While the monthly payments may not be a problem for some family budgets, analysts advise that it often takes just one emergency to tip the balance.

Financial advisors encourage those who hold balances to pay them down before that emergency strikes and to make it a habit to pay the balance in full whenever possible. Additionally, when considering opening credit card accounts, consumers are advised to research potential hidden charges, such as late fees, bounced check fees and cash advance fees. Some companies also charge customers who request an increase in their credit limits.

At any time, one's financial solvency can change. A job loss, medical crisis or divorce can make a manageable credit card balance into an insurmountable burden. When that occurs, those in South Carolina are fortunate to have recourse to legal assistance. An attorney can help them determine which options, including bankruptcy relief, may be of most benefit to them.

Source: CBS News, "America's credit card holders are $1 trillion in debt", Ed Leefeldt, Aug. 10, 2017

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