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The average American credit card holder has a lot of debt

Nerdwallet says the cost of living has grown by 30 percent since 2003.
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This isn't exactly the thing you want to be reading on Christmas Day, but a report had shed light on the hefty debts being held on U.S. credit cards.

According to analysis by Nerdwallet, which looked at Federal Reserve Bank and U.S. Census Bureau data, the average household with credit card debt owes on average $16,061 on their cards.

This represents an 11 percent rise over the past decade, and rather than it being the result of Americans having a penchant for big purchases, they have increasingly been used to bridge the gap to payday.

Nerdwallet says the cost of living has grown by 30 percent since 2003 – driven by big hikes in medical costs and the price of food and drink – but during the same period, average wages have risen only 28 percent.

The study says that this gap means cutting credit debt isn't as simple as telling people to stop extravagant spending.

"On its face, the gap between 28 percent income growth and 30 percent cost of living growth might not seem very significant," it says. "But for Americans who have chronic health problems or live in cities with a high cost of living, the difference can be huge. It’s not surprising that debt continues to increase when it’s becoming harder to make ends meet."

The average household with credit card debt pays a total of $1,292 in credit card interest per year, the study found.

Holiday spending this year is expected to surpass $1 trillion in the U.S., a 3-4 percent rise on 2015, according to Forbes.

What about other debts

U.S. credit card debt totals $747 billion, according to the Nerdwallet study, but it pales in comparison to the amount Americans owe on mortgages, auto loans and student loans

The average household with a mortgage currently owes $172,806 on average, $8.35 trillion in total across the country.

People who took out auto loans, meanwhile, owe around $28,535 on average, while the millions of graduates need to fork out $49,042 to pay back their student loans.

If you're looking for ways to reduce your credit card debt, try out these tips from CreditCards.com and Real Simple.

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