PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Many people say they've taken on more credit card debt because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That's according to a recent survey by creditcards.com.

“We found that 51 percent of people with credit card debt have added to it since the pandemic," said Ted Rossman, Industry Analyst with creditcards.com.

Rossman said millennials have been affected the most.

“Millennials are the most likely to work in service-type jobs, so we’re thinking of things like restaurants, travel, hospitality," said Rossman. "Sectors that have really been hit hard by the pandemic."

COVID Credit Card Debt

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"I also think millennials came in more vulnerable, because being earlier in their careers, with maybe lower salaries, they didn’t have a lot of wiggle room," he continued.

If you're someone with debt or you went deeper into the red this past year, Rossman said prioritizing credit card debt is a good idea.

"Because the interest rates are so much higher than most other forms of debt," said Rossman. "The average credit card charges 16 percent, whereas your typical mortgage or student loan or auto loan is maybe a third of that, or even a quarter of that."

Rossman said sometimes you can ask for a break from your credit card company.

“A lot of credit card companies have actually been generous with hardship programs," said Rossman. "So, that might involve rearranging your payment due date, maybe letting you skip your payment or sometimes even more, ideally without interest.”

"At the very least, maybe they can waive any fees or prevent any damage to your credit score," he continued. "Because, if you pay less or you pay later or you pay nothing at all, with permission, that’s okay for a time."

He said you can also look into non-profit credit counseling.

“Agencies like Money Management International, GreenPath and others, they’ll help you consolidate payments, lower rates, negotiate with creditors," he said.

Finally, he said ask if your current credit card company has a type of buy now, pay later program.

“These are basically hybrid credit cards/installment loan programs," said Rossman. "If you take existing purchases and you say, alright, I’m going to pay that off in six months or 12 months, and because you fixed the payment schedule, it’s a much lower interest rate."

Rossman said during the pandemic he's seen two very different groups, one that went into more debt and another that made a lot of headway paying it off. Rossman said that's because some people haven't lost any income and are spending less while at home more.

Copyright 2021 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. 

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