$120 Billion a Year in Interest and Fees

A Story of America’s Credit Card Problem

Andy Spears
3 min readJan 26, 2022
Photo by Kaysha on Unsplash

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has issued a report noting that Americans spend $120 billion per year on credit card interest and fees.

In a blog post highlighting key findings, the bureau notes:

At almost a trillion dollars outstanding, credit cards are the largest consumer lending product by number of users — over 175 million consumers have at least one credit card — and one of the largest sources of consumer debt

While the pandemic caused many consumers to cut back on spending, the CFPB reports that consumer spending (and debt) is on the rise again. Due in part to consolidation in the credit card market, credit card interest rates are relatively high compared to other types of debt.

As the bureau notes:

“…from 2015 to 2019, the average assessed interest rate on credit cards increased by more than 20% (from 13.7% to 16.9%).

Proposed Action

As a result of the significant role that credit card debt plays in the American economy, the CFPB has indicated it will be examining ways to take action to protect consumers. Specifically, the CFPB notes it will work to:

Uncover unfair



Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .