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This Survey Says Credit Card Debt Lowers Your Sex Appeal

January 25, 2016, 5:01 PM UTC
Falling credit cards
Photograph by Carsten Reisinger — Getty Images/iStockphoto

All this time you thought your romantic appeal was due to your clothes, your looks, or your charming personality.

Turns out, all you had to do was cut up your credit card.

Almost half of Americans, or 49%, find credit-card debt a turnoff in a potential partner, according to a new survey by personal-finance site NerdWallet.

Women, in particular, are wary of someone buried in bills, with 51% (compared with 46% for men) saying, “Sorry, not interested.”

“People just don’t want to enter into a relationship with someone with debt,” said Sean McQuay, NerdWallet’s credit card expert. “Individuals should always be looking to pay down debts, but that apparently goes double if you are looking for a relationship. You are making yourself more marketable.”

Simply put, credit-card debt is not sexy. NerdWallet found that 70% of Americans think there is a nasty stigma surrounding it, vs. other kinds of “good” debt like a home mortgage or student loans.

That is why 35% say they are embarrassed to even admit how much they owe on their plastic, and 43% say they feel judged by friends and family.

Are we really so calculating in making our romantic choices, though? After all, almost all of us have grappled with credit-card debt at one time or another in our lives. And presumably human connection is more than numbers in a ledger.

Besides, the average American household owes $15,355 on credit cards. If everyone has faced similar struggles, we are hardly in a position to be holier-than-thou in our romantic lives.


Yet singles polled on social media say they would “swipe left” as users do on the dating app Tinder to decline interest.

“Absolutely.” “Total buzzkill.” “Oh my God, are you kidding? There’s hardly a bigger dealbreaker.”

Not necessarily because of the debt itself, but because of what it might symbolize: Irresponsibility, self-control issues, a lack of foresight. Potential partners might also fear being on the hook for whatever debts you have accumulated.