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Survey reveals credit card debt still a huge problem in the U.S.

Are you struggling with credit card debt? You are not alone, according to new survey reported on by NBC News.

The 2016 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey of 1,600 adults found that around 35 percent of them carry a balance on their credit cards, rather than pay them off each month. Fourteen percent of those surveyed said their credit card balance is at $2,500 or more, up from 11 percent with that level of debt last year.

As anyone with a credit card balance knows, credit card companies charge steep interest rates on their customers’ unpaid balances. They average 15 percent -- as long as you make at least the minimum payment on time. If you are late, the interest rate can nearly double. In some cases, bankruptcy is necessary to get out of the constant cycle of growing debt.

There are some encouraging signs from the survey, which was conducted on behalf of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and BECU, a credit union. Slightly more respondents reported putting more of their money into savings this year, and 69 percent said their savings included non-retirement funds, bringing the latter rate back to 2013 levels.

Despite stereotypes, not everybody with high credit card debt is irresponsible or short-sighted. Many people lack savings, and all it takes is a job loss, medical emergency or other catastrophe to quickly force them to relay on their credit card to pay for food, transportation and other basics. A conversation with a bankruptcy attorney can help people in this situation get back on the path to financial independence.

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