NEW YORK, July 28 (UPI) -- Debt among older U.S. credit card holders has skyrocketed since 2005, as senior citizens increased borrowing to pay for necessities, a new study shows.
Since 2005, revolving debt among low- and middle-income senior citizens -- age 65 or older -- grew 26 percent. In the same period, credit card balances for all age groups rose 3 percent, the public policy group Demos said Tuesday.
Overall, revolving debt has risen 400 percent since 1989 and 41 percent since 2000 among households that fall between 50 percent and 120 percent of the local median income, said the study, "The Plastic Safety Net: How Households are Coping in a Fragile Economy."
The study found the average credit card debt among low- and middle-income households has reached $9,827.
Seventy-five percent of those income groups used their credit cards for car repairs, house repairs or to cover expenses after a drop in income -- in other words, as a safety net -- the report said.
More than a third of the respondents in a survey indicated they used credit cards to cover basic living expenses, while half indicated revolving credit was used to pay medical bills, the study said.