Americans are spending above their means and relying on their credit cards to absorb the debt, according to a study by the Associated Press. Three out of four households have credit cards, the AP says, with an average debt of $5,000.
AP reporter Bob Porterfield says that October 2007 saw a 26 percent rise in the number of credit card holders making payments at least 30 days late.
"A lot of the people that were out charging on Black Friday this year," Porterfield told NPR's Robert Siegel, "are still paying off credit card balances from gifts they bought last Christmas."
Porterfield co-wrote the article "Credit Card Crunch" with reporter Rachel Konrad after compiling statistics and reviewing spending patterns. He says defaults and delinquencies are surging by double-digit percentages and prompting warnings of worse to come.