FinHealth Spend Research 2022

The FinHealth Spend Report 2022 estimates what U.S. households paid in interest and fees for a variety of common financial services in 2021. As the pandemic continued for a second consecutive year, households spent less on interest and fees compared with 2020. Government interventions helped households reduce their credit card debt and reliance on alternative financial services while deferring billions in student loan expenses. Yet disparities in total fees and interest paid by race, ethnicity, and income remained vast.

FinHealth Spend Research 2022

FinHealth Spend Report 2022

This year’s annual FinHealth Spend Report examines how households in America managed their finances and accessed credit during the second year of the pandemic, analyzing year-over-year trends for more than two dozen financial products and services.

Key Takeaways

In 2021, total interest and fees spent on financial services in the U.S. declined to $305 billion from a high of $319 billion in 2020.

Credit Card Debt

Stimulus payments and other government interventions helped households reduce credit card debt in 2021.

Federal Student Loan Debt

The moratorium on federal student loan payments, continued from 2020, helped consumers defer billions in student loan expenses.

Inequalities by Race and Ethnicity

As a percentage of their income, Black households spent more than twice what White households spent on interest and fees, while Latinx households spent 1.4 times more than White households.

Inequalities by Income

Households with low-to-moderate incomes spent nearly three times more of their income on interest and fees than higher-income households

Percentage of household income spent on interest and fees.

Overdraft/Nonsufficient Funds (NSF) Fees
  • Remained fairly steady from 2020 to 2021, totalling roughly $11 billion each year. This represents a sizable drop from $15.5 billion in fees in 2019.
  • Black households with bank accounts were almost twice as likely as White households (1.8x) to report having paid at least one overdraft fee, while Latinx households were 1.4x* more likely. Financially Vulnerable households with bank accounts were nearly 10 times as likely to overdraft as the Financially Healthy.
Credit Cards
  • In 2021, overall interest and fees on revolving balances for both general purpose and private label cards declined, as consumers leveraged stimulus payments and other government benefits to pay down debt.
  • However, in the second half of 2021, balances rose closer to pre-pandemic levels, with a record jump in Q4.
Student Loans
  • Total interest and fees on federal student loans have fallen precipitously since the pandemic due to the student loan moratorium. In 2019, the total interest and fees collected were estimated at $25 billion. In 2021, the total was an estimated $6.3 billion.
  • Although federal student loans comprise 92% of the $1.7 trillion student loan portfolio, the estimated interest and fees paid by private student loan borrowers in 2021 exceeded those from federal student loan borrowers ($8.5 billion vs. $6.3 billion).
  • For every month that the moratorium is extended, federal student loan borrowers avoid an estimated $1.5 billion in interest payments.
Pawn, Payday, and Title Loans
  • While most 2020-21 changes were relatively small, interest and fees from pawn, payday, and title loans have dropped dramatically since 2019.
    • Pawn revenue fell an estimated 25%.
    • Payday revenue fell an estimated 45%.
    • Title loans are estimated to have contracted 39% due to COVID-19 trends as well as the impact of state laws restricting their use.

Research and Methodology

For the second consecutive year, we’ve paired extensive secondary research with a nationally representative survey on consumer spending, leveraging the Understanding America Study (UAS) panel administered by the University of Southern California (USC) Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR). This provides critical year-over-year trend data on consumer spending on financial services, providing insight into the financial health impact of policy changes and product alternatives.

In the 2022 report, we have also:

    • Expanded our scope to include most nonmortgage credit products, including federal student loans.
    • Deepened our analysis of buy here, pay here (BHPH) auto loans.
    • Added ATM fees, providing a more complete picture of banking fees.
    • Begun exploring emerging markets for buy now, pay later (BNPL) and earned wage access (EWA) products.

Learn More

What is Financial Health?

The FinHealth Spend Report 2022 applies the Financial Health Network’s unique approach to evaluating and measuring financial health. Learn more about how we define this key concept.

Learn More

Our Supporter

Since 2020, the FinHealth Spend Research has been made possible by Prudential Financial.

prudential

About FinHealth Spend

Learn how FinHealth Spend Research has evolved since 2011, and see how it has helped drive positive changes for real Americans across demographic groups.

Visit the Overview Page

Experts

Elaine Golden

Senior Associate, Research
Financial Health Network

Hannah Gdalman

Senior Associate, Financial Services Solutions
Financial Health Network

Meghan Greene

Senior Director, Research
Financial Health Network

Necati Celik

Senior Associate, Data
Financial Health Network