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Credit card debt is unlike other financial consumer liabilities

It is not uncommon for a Garnerville resident to hold a mortgage on his or her home, a loan on his or her car and perhaps several debts from his time as a student that must be paid off on a periodic schedule. These debts, despite the fact that they may seem overwhelming, can actually be manageable for consumers since they require timely, monthly payments in order for the debtors to remain in good standing with regard to the obligations. As debtors make payments toward the satisfaction of these loans, the loans gradually decrease in principal and incur less and less interest until they are paid in full.

Credit cards and the debts they can carry do not follow these rules. Unlike a mortgage or car loan, a credit card debt does not mandate that a debtor pay a certain amount of money on the same date each and every month. In fact, credit card companies generally tell debtors the bare minimum that they must pay in order to stay in the card companies good graces; unlike a fixed mortgage or car payment, a credit card debt balance can vary as the card holder makes payments and purchases and is effectively an open-ended debt that may endure indefinitely.

Social scientists have studied consumers' attitudes toward credit card debt and have noted that most individuals do not hesitate to carry balances on their cards. Despite the fact that credit card balances result in consumers paying more in interest, psychological factors influence card holders to only make small payments toward the satisfaction of their debts.

Though some individuals can financially survive while carrying credit card debt, others lose their financial footing and find themselves at the mercy of bill collectors and angry creditors. When credit card debt, medical debt or any other kind of debt pushes a consumer beyond his capacity to pay he has options for getting back on solid financial footing. Bankruptcy and other debt relief tools are available to some consumers who require protections from the entities to which they owe money.

Source: washingtonpost.com, "The psychological trick that makes it harder to pay off your credit cards," Jeff Guo, Nov. 4, 2016

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