Last Minute Holiday Shopping? Beware of Credit Card Debt! Here's How It Works [Video Explainer]

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Beware the lure of that plastic in your wallet!

According to the Federal Reserve data, the average indebted U.S. household in 2013 shouldered credit card debt of more than $15,000 (although that figure is skewed by a relatively small number of extremely debt-ridden families). U.S. credit card debt has fallen since the height of the Great Recession, and it pales in comparison to average mortgage debt (about $148,000) and student loan debt (about $32,000). But it still remains a major burden for millions of U.S. consumers who cumulatively owe upwards of $850 billion to credit card companies.

So how do credit cards actually work? And more importantly, how do the credit card companies make their millions from all your swipes? Animator Josh Kurz explains.