A quarter of Americans who are in debt expect to die that way

By Kate Gibson

/ MoneyWatch

Dealing with debt

Most U.S. adults are in debt, and a quarter of those who owe expect to die that way.

So finds a troubling new survey from CreditCards.com, which found that nearly two-thirds of debtors don't know if or when they'll ever pay it off, while 25 percent don't think they'll manage to climb out of the hole during their lifetime.

Most millennials don't expect to shed all their debt until age 43, versus 54 and 66 for Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers, respectively, according to the poll. Households with annual income of less than $50,000 think they'll be out of debt the soonest, forecasting 47 as the average age they'll be debt-free, while those earning more than that amount said don't expect to be in the clear until their mid-50s.

The findings reflect the increase in income inequality in the U.S. in recent decades, Creditcard.com analyst Ted Rossman told CBS MoneyWatch. "Two extremes are emerging here — a lot more more people are currently debt-free, and a lot more people expect to die in debt."

The news isn't all bad. Some 34 percent of Americans do not carry any debt, up from 14 percent in 2014, when more households were still struggling to recover from the housing crash.

Three generations share 1 big problem: Student debt

What kind of debt are we talking about? Mostly credit cards, mortgages and auto loans. In 2017, the average balance on credit cards came to $6,354, up 2.7 percent over the previous year, according to Experian.

Americans with credit-card debt are charged an average interest rate of 17.14 percent — reason enough to pay it off, Rossman said. Zero-balance transfers are a viable option that many don't consider, said the analyst, who cautioned consumers to be wary of offers that come with upfront transfer fees.

First published on January 9, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

Officials say FEMA work in Puerto Rico unaffected by shutdown

Two of the island's most popular tourist attractions may shutter, and a food assistance program could run out of funds

updated 5M ago

A quarter of Americans who are in debt expect to die that way

More people are swimming in red ink as income inequality widens in the U.S., though more are debt-free

updated 1M ago

Top FBI official says there's a "crisis of violence" in Puerto Rico

Special Agent in Charge Douglas Leff said he asked more personnel and resources from the U.S. mainland

updated 18M ago

Trump declares border crisis, Democrats say he has "chosen fear"

CBS News fact checks Trump's speech

updated 45M ago

Jeff Bezos announces he and his wife are divorcing

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces he and his wife MacKenzie Bezos are divorcing

updated 0M ago

Officials say FEMA work in Puerto Rico unaffected by shutdown

Two of the island's most popular tourist attractions may shutter, and a food assistance program could run out of funds

updated 5M ago

Top FBI official says there's a "crisis of violence" in Puerto Rico

Special Agent in Charge Douglas Leff said he asked more personnel and resources from the U.S. mainland

updated 18M ago

Trump declares border crisis, Democrats say he has "chosen fear"

CBS News fact checks Trump's speech

updated 45M ago

Trump Jr. suggests border wall is like a zoo fence

Trump Jr. has made controversial analogies on social media before

1H ago

"Like a pawn in a game": Furloughed workers react to Trump's speech

Single mother Leisyka Parrott is down to her last $800 and park ranger Julie Clark is worried about defaulting on her student loans

1H ago

Norwegian billionaire's wife being held for ransom

Police say note found in couple's house described what would happen to her if the demanded ransom isn't paid in cryptocurrency

2H ago

Iran holding jailed Americans for leverage, sources say

Another American family is pleading for the release of a relative caught in an international tug-of-war between the U.S. and Iran.

2H ago

Pompeo visits Iraq, assures allies that U.S. won't let ISIS rebound

Top diplomat tries to tamp down concerns over rapidly changing Trump administration policy in Syria in unannounced stop next door

2H ago

Kim Jong Un concludes China visit ahead of possible 2nd Trump summit

Two day trip is said to have included talks with China's president amid reports another Trump-Kim get-together is in the works

7H ago

"Suspicious packages" found at U.S., other consulates in Australia

Police and emergency services examining suspicious packages, reportedly labeled "asbestos," sent to as many as 7 foreign offices in 2 cities

5H ago

Teddy Geiger on teen stardom and finding herself

Geiger hit full-blown teen heartthrob status in the mid-2000s but started feeling like a pop star product and had long struggled with her gender identity

updated 43M ago

Jeff Bezos announces he and his wife are divorcing

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces he and his wife MacKenzie Bezos are divorcing

updated 0M ago

Prosecutor asks for alleged victims of R. Kelly to come forward

"In order to have an investigation … we have to have victims and witnesses who are willing to come forth with whatever information that they have," Kim Foxx said

updated 9M ago

Disgraced director thanks Golden Globes for award

Stars and critics have taken issue with "Bohemian Rhapsody" director Bryan Singer, who welcomed a Golden Globe win on Instagram

18H ago

Regina King gets support for her Golden Globes vow

In her acceptance speech at Sunday night's Golden Globes​, King vowed to hire 50 percent women for all her production projects going forward

21H ago

CES Day 1 highlights: Meat-free burger debuts; smart cars get smarter

This year's show covers over 2.9 million square feet with gadgets and technologies that have the potential to change the lives of billions of people

14H ago

Hacker confesses to stealing data from German leader, other politicians

Officials said the hacker leaked the data because he was "annoyed" by some of the victims' public statements

20H ago

Second grader wins Google Doodle contest

She's only in second grade, but she just got one step closer to fulfilling her dream of becoming a paleontologist

22H ago

Amazon surpasses Microsoft as most valuable U.S. company

Stock market's recent turmoil has shifted the fortunes of America's biggest companies as Apple falls to No. 4

Jan 7

Running blind

A rare condition that left Simon Wheatcroft completely blind by age 27 has not slowed the marathon runner down, as he tests new technologies he hopes will help the visually-impaired

Jan 6

Committed to a dry January? How to stay motivated

Abstaining from alcohol can benefit your health and save you money. These expert tips can help you stick with it all month

4H ago

U.S. woman dies from rabies after dog bite abroad

The woman got sick after returning home from an extended yoga retreat in India

17H ago

Millions of Americans incorrectly think they have food allergies

New research suggests many adults who think they have a food allergy actually have an intolerance

22H ago

N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Hillary Clinton tout stronger abortion rights

The Democrats shared the stage Monday at Barnard College in Manhattan to urge the codifying of abortion rights in New York state law

Jan 7

Income volatility is bad for your wallet — and health

Unpredictable changes in Americans' income are on the rise and associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease

Jan 7

A quarter of Americans who are in debt expect to die that way

More people are swimming in red ink as income inequality widens in the U.S., though more are debt-free

updated 1M ago

Jeff Bezos announces he and his wife are divorcing

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces he and his wife MacKenzie Bezos are divorcing

updated 0M ago

Food stamps funded through February despite shutdown, USDA says

The pledge comes as the government shutdown continues, risking aid for the program's 40 million recipients

1H ago

U.S.-China trade talks end, but has anything changed?

After three days of face-to-face negotiations, whether either side has shifted significantly is left unclear

1H ago

Where the government shutdown pain is showing

As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls for the shutdown to end, the fallout is spreading far and wide

15H ago

Norwegian billionaire's wife being held for ransom

Police say note found in couple's house described what would happen to her if the demanded ransom isn't paid in cryptocurrency

2H ago

Calif. man allegedly stole winning $10M lottery ticket from roommate

Alleged thief thought it was worth $10,000 when he went to cash it in; was later lured back to lottery office and arrested

1H ago

DNA samples sought at facility where woman in vegetative state gave birth

Police served search warrant for DNA from all male employees at Hacienda HealthCare long-term nursing facility in Phoenix

2H ago

2nd man charged with murder in 7-year-old girl's shooting

Authorities say the two men mistakenly thought they were attacking people they'd previously fought at a club

17H ago

Police investigating 2nd death at Democratic donor's home

Democratic Party donor Ed Buck has contributed to various California races and causes

15H ago