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06/09/2021

44% of Americans willing to take on debt for post-pandemic spending

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
Marianne Wilson profile picture

Many Americans plan to cut loose with money and treat themselves during the second half of 2021   — even if it means going into debt to do it.

As COVID-19 restrictions ease and the pandemic begins to wind down, 44% of U.S. adults said that they will take on debt to “treat themselves,” according to a new CreditCards.com survey. The top areas in which respondents said they would be willing to accrue debt are automotive (15%), home renovations (14%) and travel (12%).

In addition, 67% of respondents said that they plan to spend more money in at least one discretionary category during the second half of 2021, with the top categories being travel (35%), out-of-home entertainment (26%), bars and restaurants (26%), home renovations (25%) and clothing and accessories (21%). And overall, 66% of those who participated said that they plan to treat themselves with purchases to celebrate the pandemic winding down, even if they don’t have plans regarding how they’ll pay for them.

“After putting up with COVID for more than a year, I think everyone is entitled to treat themselves,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst for CreditCards.com. “However, I’m concerned that so many people are willing to go into debt as a result. Credit card rates have been creeping up, and they generally range from about 16% to 24%. That’s really expensive debt.”

Other results from the credit card debt poll are below.

• Of the 44% who said that they are willing to take on debt for discretionary purchases in the second half of 2021, 59% were millennials, 56% were Gen Zers, 40% were Gen Xers and 32% were baby boomers.

• Sixty-three percent of parents with children under age 18 said that they’d go into debt for discretionary purchases compared with 40% with no children and 35% of parents with adult children.

• Men were more willing to go into debt for nonessentials (47%) than women (41%).