Americans to spend over $181 billion on gifts this holiday season

Average spend on gift giving to hit $738 this holiday season!

Have you saved up enough cash to spend on your holiday gift buying budget? If you haven’t you’re not alone. In fact, a new study by found that over 157.1 million Americans will go into debt to afford presents these holidays.

With the average spend on gifts sitting at $738 this holiday season, that’s an estimated $181.2 billion to be spent on presents – $103.3 billion of which will be on credit.

Santa certainly has a fat wallet this Christmas …Or more like a fat credit card debt!

The facts of gift giving
  • 245.5 million Americans plan to spend $181.2 billion on gifts these holidays
  • 64% of those (over 157.1 million people) will borrow $103.3 billion to buy gifts
  • 16% of Americans will use credit cards for all of their present shopping
  • 15% will use short-term payday loans to buy presents
  • Men are bigger spenders on gifts than women, but rely more on credit

The study of 1,744 adults commissioned by and conducted by global research provider pureprofile in October 2016, found that on average Americans are expecting to spend $738 each; a total of $181.2 billion.

It also found that 17% of Americans have no savings put away to spend on gift buying this holiday season.

Less than 1% of Americans won’t be spending money on gifts this holiday season, leaving the other 99% to spend up on gift buying, with many racking up debt on credit cards, short term loans, personal loans and through borrowing from family and friends.

In fact, just 36% of Americans will be using only their savings to pay for gift buying this year.

A further 16% of Americans will be relying solely on their credit cards, 1.3% are intending to pay for all of their gift buying with a personal loan and 3% will rely on borrowing from friends or family for all their present shopping.

There is also a concerning 15% of Americans who are planning to use short-term payday loans for some or all of their gift buying.

Men Vs Women:

  • Men say they are bigger buyers this year, spending $340 more than females on gifts – $955 compared to $615 respectively
  • But women will rely less on borrowing money than men, with 55% of women borrowing from a bank or family/friend, as oppose to 60% of men

Comparing incomes:

  • Those earning no income are intending to borrow most of their gift purchasing money from family and friends (42%), and plan to spend a total of $216 each
  • All of those who earn an income reported that the majority of their holiday gift budget would be withdrawn from their savings


  • Gen X (aged 35-54) are the biggest spenders, forking out $895 on gifts each on average, followed by Gen Y (aged 18-34) at $667 and Baby Boomers (aged 55+) at $548
  • Baby Boomers will be relying on their credit cards the most, with 45% of their present purchases being put on plastic
  • Gen Y are most reliant on receiving a loan for holiday gift buying this year, with 24% of purchases expected to be covered by either a short term loan, personal loan or borrowed money from a family member. Gen X plan to borrow 20% and Baby Boomers trail at 16%
If you need some help managing your debt this holiday season, you might want to consider a balance transfer credit card.

Comparison of Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Rates last updated July 24th, 2017.

Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®

Low 13.99% APR for purchases, BT and cash advances

January 8th, 2016

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

50K bonus miles + 0% APR for 12 months on BT + 16.99% APR on purchases and 26.24% APR on cash advances

September 17th, 2016

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Jonathan Choi Jonathan
Table Image Product Description Intro APR for Balance Transfer APR for Purchases ( Purchase Rate ) Annual fee
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard Earn 50,000 bonus miles and enjoy the current 0% intro APR for 12 months. 0% Intro APR for 12 months (with $5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater% balance transfer fee) 16.99%–23.99% variable $0 annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter) Go to site More info
Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® Low interest rate on purchases, balance transfer and cash advances. 0% Intro APR for 15 months 13.99% variable $0 Go to site More info
Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® Receive $200 cash rewards bonus when you spend $1,000 on your card within the first 90 days. A no annual fee card with 0% introductory APR on balance transfers. 0% Intro APR for 15 months (on balance transfers made within first 45 days) (with 3%, Minimum $5% balance transfer fee) 15.99% - 25.99% Variable $0 More info
USAA Cash Rewards® American Express® USAA Cash Rewards® American Express® You can receive up to 2.25% cash back on groceries and gas, as well as up to 1.25% cash back on most purchases. 10.65% - 26.65% variable $0 More info
USAA Cash Rewards® Visa Signature® Card USAA Cash Rewards® Visa Signature® Card You can get price protection and extended warranties for your purchases and rewards for your day-to-day purchases. 10.40% - 26.40% Variable $0 More info

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