Tips for Managing Debt

5 Tips to Manage Credit Card Debt for Older Adults

You may typically think of credit cards as something used by younger consumers, but a surprising number of older adults find themselves in credit card debt. Just think of all the costs involved with life that may lead seniors to whip out credit cards to pay for things:

  • Overwhelming medical expenses
  • Home repairs
  • Gifts for children or grandchildren
  • Travel
  • Payments for anything when cash flow is tight

In fact, among those ages 65 to 74 who were heads of household, 42% had credit card debtin 2016, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. The median debt was $2,500. Among those 75 years and older, 26% had credit card debt. 

If you have an older loved one facing credit card debt, here are several ways to help the manage that debt:

1. Contact credit card companies for help. If your older loved one is having trouble paying the credit card bill, let the credit card companies know as soon as possible. You may be able to help them negotiate a new, lower payment.

2. Make a plan to pay off credit cards. If your older loved one has more than one credit card to pay off, consider taking one of two approaches: They can pay off the card with the highest interest rate first, or they can pay off the card with the lowest balance first. Each approach has its advantages and drawbacks, so you may want to see which one suits them best.

3. Speak with a financial advisor. Your older loved one may have retirement funds or equity in their mortgage. Using this money to pay off credit card debt may have its pros and cons, but it can’t hurt to evaluate if it’s the right move in this particular situation.

4. See if a family member can help with the payments. Again, this approach isn’t for everyone, but some older adults may feel comfortable asking a non-judgmental family member for help to pay off credit card bills. Perhaps a loan with low or no interest can be arranged, with affordable monthly payments.

5. Talk to a credit counselor. Credit counselors are trained to help people manage their credit when debts have become overwhelming. This article from the Federal Trade Commission has tips on finding a reputable credit counselor. Beware of any company that charges high fees that would put your loved one in greater debt. 

Call Secure Aging to Find Out How We Can Help Seniors With Financial Management

At Secure Aging in Bradenton, we transform the weight of the world into a sigh of relief for our senior clients and their concerned family members. The mission of Secure Aging is to protect and preserve our client’s independence and dignity through careful and thoughtful financial and care management. As our clients age, it is their desire to remain independent and age with dignity. Our services protect our clients from talented con artists looking to exploit and deplete the financial resources of our vulnerable seniors. Secure Aging helps families in Manatee County and Sarasota County and in and around the communities of Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Ellenton, Holmes Beach, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Myakka City, Palmetto, Parrish, and Sarasota. Call us at 941-761-9338, or visit us online at

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