and using a cash-back credit card can free up cash that can be put toward debt payments until they are paid off in full,” she says. — almost 250 million as of July 2016 — Nerd Wallet’s calculations found that nearly 27 million Americans could be putting medical bills on credit cards. If this amount went on a credit card and minimum payments were made each month, it would cost 1 in interest and take 70 months to pay off, according to Nerd Wallet’s calculations.“Also, comb through your transactions over the last few months to see what items you can cut, such as subscriptions, restaurant meals or entertainment expenses.”, which focuses on the nation’s health policies and medical issues, 29% of Americans report problems paying medical bills, and 37% have increased their credit card debt to help pay for medical bills.  “Charging medical bills to credit cards can seem like a simple solution, but it can actually lead to even bigger headaches down the road,” Palmer says.To determine how much debt Americans are carrying and how much it’s costing them in 2017, Nerd Wallet analyzed data from several sources, including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the U. Census Bureau (see additional details in the methodology below).For this study, Nerd Wallet used an estimate of almost 127 million U. households based on September 2017 Census Bureau data. In the survey, Americans were asked about their credit card payment habits and how they got into debt.Add in the higher cost of living in some places or chronic health problems, and it can be even harder for people to live without going into debt.When it comes to credit card debt, some people think it’s the result of overspending, while others blame it on the rising cost of living for necessities.As Americans' credit card balances continue to climb, many blame their own debt on unnecessary spending.That's actually good news: It means they can take steps to stop buying, pay down their balances and cut their interest costs.
 However, significant expenses in Americans’ budgets — medical care, housing and food — have outpaced income growth.Since Nerd Wallet’s number focuses on credit card debt only, the 5 billion is a more accurate estimate of how much debt is outstanding.It’s also important to note that this total includes the balances of cardholders who pay off their cards in full every month, as well as those who carry debt from one month to the next.Our survey found that consumers accumulate credit card debt for different reasons, including spending above their means, bouts of unemployment and paying for the essentials that their income doesn’t cover.About 2 in 5 Americans who have ever had credit card debt (41%) reported that spending more than they could afford on unnecessary purchases contributed to them going into credit card debt, the Nerd Wallet survey found.