Types of unacceptable debt in a partner

What types of debt do Americans consider unacceptable in a partner?

Survey findings estimate that more than 3 in 4 Americans consider credit card debt unacceptable in a partner.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, household debt was at an all-time high between 2004 and the third quarter of 2017, when it totaled $12.96 trillion. This is an increase of $280 billion from 2008’s third-quarter peak during that year’s financial crisis.

Many different types of credit commitments contribute to overall household debt, and we weigh each differently according to how we prioritize their importance.

Attempting to dig deep into the details, finder.com surveyed 2,000 Americans to find out which types of debt we find most unacceptable in a partner.

Our survey revealed that of household debts, Americans find credit card debt most unacceptable in a partner — with 77.55% of our respondents saying debt on plastic is most distasteful. Payday loans closely followed at 77.35%.

Some 3 in 4 Americans may not fully appreciate the value a college degree can provide: 76.20% (about 187.14 million) name student loans an unacceptable debt, finding an average $51,000 in debt objectionable. (The good news is that only 1 in 4 students owes $43,000 or more in student loans, according to a 2016 report from the Pew Research Center.)

More Americans find it harder to accept a partner’s need to borrow money for medical purposes than they do for a business loan. Americans find business loans the most tolerable type of debt, with an estimated 70.90% considering borrowing for a business unacceptable in a partner, followed by home equity loans at 71.25% and medical bills at 72.20%.

DebtAverage amount considered unacceptableProportion of respondents who consider each debt unacceptable
Student loan$51,00076.20%
Payday loan$1,83077.35%
Auto loan$27,29872.55%
Family and friends$6,09273.95%
Credit card$11,52577.55%
Medical bill$35,22172.20%
Home equity loan$77,19371.25%
Personal loan$25,90572.80%
Business loan$153,16670.90%

Source: finder.com


When it comes to gender, there isn’t much difference between the types of debt each consider unacceptable in a partner. The top three most unacceptable debts for both genders are consistent: credit card, payday loans and student loans. The most accepted loans are again business loans, home equity loans, and medical bills, which for men tied with money owed to family and friends.
DebtProportion of women who consider each debt unacceptableProportion of men who consider each debt unacceptable
Student loan75.69%76.73%
Payday loan77.06%77.65%
Auto loan72.35%72.76%
Family and friends75.49%72.35%
Credit card77.75%77.35%
Medical bill72.06%72.35%
Home equity loan71.27%71.22%
Personal loan72.65%72.96%
Business loan70.78%71.02%

Source: finder.com


More baby boomers than any other generation consider all debts except student loans unacceptable in a partner. Whereas millennials are least tolerant of student loans, more than 4 in 5 of them consider it unacceptable in a partner.

Gen Xers appear the most tolerant generation when it comes to debt in any form. However, Gen X finds payday loans (74.67%) slightly more unacceptable than credit cards (74.01%). Baby boomers are consistent with the general population trend: 81.36% find credit cards most unacceptable, followed by payday loans (80.83%) and student loans (76.96%). The most unacceptable loans for millennials are student loans at 80.04%, credit cards at 77.19% and payday loans at 76.17%.

DebtProportion of baby boomers who consider each debt unacceptableProportion of Gen Xers who consider each debt unacceptableProportion of millennials who consider each debt unacceptable
Student loan76.96%72.96%80.04%
Payday loan80.83%74.67%76.17%
Auto loan75.63%68.47%74.13%
Family and friends76.43%70.71%75.15%
Credit card81.36%74.01%77.19%
Medical bill76.17%68.34%72.10%
Home equity loan74.97%66.75%72.51%
Personal loan76.30%68.60%73.93%
Business loan74.30%66.49%72.51%

Source: finder.com

We calculated these figures from an October 2017 survey of 2,000 American adults commissioned by finder.com and conducted by global research provider Pureprofile.

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