National US statistics seem to indicate that people have a love-love relationship with credit cards that’s deeper and stronger than ever before. Outstanding credit card debt has never been higher in American history than in 2008, when the financial crisis was raging across the world. It amounted to $30 billion in the most recent fiscal quarter alone.

Statistics also show women have more debt than men. Over a quarter of female cardholders express lack of confidence in being able to pay their credit card bills off. For men, this percentage stands at just 14%.

Industry analysts say women must work much harder than men to cover debt because the annual income for women is 20% lower than of men on average. Almost 33% of women with credit cards admit that in the past six months,they were able to pay off their credit card balances in full just once or more rarely, compared to every fifth male respondent.

All other factors being equal, the national average debt of $5,700 will consume much more of the average woman’s than the average man’s salary ($41,554 vs. $51,640). In particular, single mothers seem to be hit the hardest. Many women rely on credit cards just to make ends meet because of how tight their finances are. It’s even scarier when you consider that this is occurring at a time when the economy is in overall good condition. In the US, the unemployment rate hasn’t been as low as it currently is in exactly five decades.

What’s worse, salaries aren’t the only factor. The issue may go deeper than that according to financial experts, who find that credit card debt and its different impact on both genders is a symptom of bigger cultural disparities in terms of financial literacy. Financial literacy surveys show women lag very far behind men. The media exacerbate the issues. Men’s magazines often place much more emphasis on financial strategies and literacy than women’s do. What is more, disparities can be observed in sectors like retail. For example, women’s retail outlets often offer high-interest credit cards as an alternative to paying cash to enjoy a bigger discount.

According to a report by the Credit Card Confidence Index, almost 50% of American credit card holders express high confidence in their ability to pay off their balances in full each month. Unfortunately, only 20% of holders are actually able to achieve this.