More than half — 51.5% — of millennials report that they have credit card debt, according to the study. And if they're like most Americans, they're stuck carrying that credit card debt for at least a year.

Why are millennials leaning on credit cards so much?

Nervous underpaid female worker
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Millennials are under financial stress because of weak income growth.

The percentage of millennials owing money on credit cards may seem high, but it's the predictable outcome of a rising cost of living coupled with flat income growth.

After adjusting for inflation, annual incomes have increased for people ages 25 to 34 by just a measly $29 since 1974, while older age groups saw increases of up to $5,400 over the same period.

Meanwhile, housing and education costs have been rising quickly and are affecting millennials more than any other generation.

Student loan debt alone has doubled in the last decade, while millennials are spending 45% of their incomes on housing costs — more than any other age group.

This means more of the money millennials earn is being gobbled up by rent and student loan payments, causing Americans in their 20s and 30s to fall back on revolving credit, like credit cards, to finance the rest of their basic needs.

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How can millennials get out of the hole?

Smiling hipster guy applying for debt consolidation loan online
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An online debt consolidation loan can offer relief from credit card debt.

The biggest issue with millennials' high rate of credit card debt is how much it's costing them. Credit card debt comes with high interest rates, and the interest compounds — meaning the outstanding balance on a credit card only gets bigger if all you make are the minimum payments.

But the outlook isn't completely bleak.

Today, millennials have access to more online debt consolidation options that let them roll their outstanding debts into a loan with a reasonable interest rate and a shorter payoff schedule.

For most people with credit card debt, a debt consolidation loan is an easy way to save thousands in interest payments and get out of debt more quickly.

New online services like Fiona allow consumers to find relief from debt without a lot of time-intensive research. They can search a database of lenders willing to extend a loan offer to get them out of debt, then apply for a loan online in minutes, and not have to go to a bank and wait to talk with someone.

Debt consolidation can't solve everything (you'll need to talk to your boss if you want to do something about your income), but it's a great way for way for millennials, and anyone else with credit card debt, to achieve better financial security with relative ease.

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