68% of Americans in debt doubt they'll ever pay it off

credit cards

Many Americans are feeling the pinch every month when their credit cards bills and other loans roll in, so much so that a majority of them, especially the older generation, aren’t confident that they will ever be able to pay them off, according to a new report.

More than 68% of U.S. adults polled by CreditCards.com said they doubt they will be able to completely pay off their debts, which globally has ballooned to a record high of $233 trillion in the third quarter of 2017, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF). Additionally, 30% believe they’ll never be debt-free and another 38% don’t know how or when they’ll be able to swipe their slates clean in the future.

However, a more optimistic 32% of Americans said they foresee their credit lines clearing up in an average of roughly nine years.

The generations with the least amount of confidence were the Silent Generation (72+) at 83%, baby boomers (53-71) at 70%, Gen X (37-52) at 68%, and millennials (18-36) at 65%.

The biggest culprit—and worry—is credit card debt. A whopping 35% of adults with plastic—or roughly 31 million Americans—think they “have dug themselves too deep a hole to ever climb out of,” the report said. 

“With credit card debt currently at near record levels, it’s frightening that so many Americans do not have a plan to get out of the red,” said Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

Schulz added that the problem is manyAmericans use credit cards on things they simply can’t afford. But the good news is that a majority of Americans seem to be in better position to pay off existing debts in 2018 than they were in 2017 with 50% indicating an increased comfort from a year ago.

“Conversely, only 13% would feel more comfortable taking on more debt now compared to last year, and 45% percent would be less comfortable,” Schulz said.