Consumers’ Debt Appears to Increase as Credit Purchases Grow

ACCC Financial Health Index finds number of consumers with an unhealthy debt-to income ratio is on the rise

Boston, MA – October 21, 2021

Household debt is becoming more of an issue for some consumers, as the percentage of respondents rating debt-to-income ratio ‘very unhealthy’ doubled from 8 percent to 16 percent, new data from the American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) Q3 2021 Financial Health Index indicates.

The ACCC Financial Health Index for the third quarter of 2021 found that the percentage of respondents who are very confident they can reduce their debt by at least 10 percent over the next six months fell almost 10 percent. ACCC’s previous poll had found that half of consumers have been using more credit in the last month to make purchases, and now the results from that are beginning to show.

A recent study by Bankrate also found that 42 percent of consumers with credit card debt prior to the pandemic have increased their debt. Of those, 47 percent said the pandemic is the direct cause of their increased debt.

“It is vital that Americans pay close attention to spending to avoid their total debt creeping higher and higher,” said Allen Amadin, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “We have seen that consumers are becoming less confident in their ability to pay down their debt, which is a sign that credit card debt is becoming more of an issue.”

The financial uncertainty persists. Last quarter, 15 percent of respondents said they were not confident at all in the U.S. economy, and that number increased to 20 percent in this quarter’s poll, with 42 percent saying their confidence is weak. The COVID-19 delta variant may be a contributing factor in a slowed economic recovery. In the month of September, total U.S. unemployment claims began to rise for the first time in almost two months – topping 362,000 at the end of the month according to the U.S. Labor Department.

ACCC’s Q3 Financial Health Index poll surveyed 411 respondents aged 25-65 with incomes of $100,000 or less. It was conducted in September.

This quarter’s poll also touched on how consumers are using their child tax credit money. Among the 45 percent of respondents eligible to receive the tax credit, 27 percent are using the money to pay down debt, 28 percent are using it to boost savings, and 38 percent are using it to keep up with bills.

To avoid a government shutdown and extend funding through December 3rd, President Biden signed a Congress’ stopgap funding bill on September 30th. A government shutdown could affect millions of Americans who are already struggling during the pandemic. Food stamps would get delayed, 2 million federal employees could get furloughed and National Parks would shut down.

About American Consumer Credit Counseling

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management through credit counseling, debt management, bankruptcy counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling, and financial education concerning debt solutions. To help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loan assistance, youth and money, homeownership, identity theft, senior living, and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®). For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to or visit