Many Americans rely on credit cards for purchasing power in the absence of cash on hand. But there's a difference between using credit cards wisely, and using them as an excuse to charge away the things you can't afford. Unfortunately, Americans across all ages and income levels have a tendency to fall into the latter trap. According to recent data from ValuePenguin, the average U.S. household holds $5,700 in credit card debt, and more than 38% of households are currently carrying balances of some sort. The problem is that holding onto credit card debt is an almost-guaranteed way to lose money for no good reason, and unless we change our bad habits, a lot of us are headed for financial trouble.