As the economy improves, more Americans are borrowing money to pay for purchases.

Thirty-seven percent have credit card debt that equals or is greater than their emergency savings, says a survey released today by Bankrate.com.

“These numbers mean that three out of every eight Americans are teetering on the edge of financial disaster,” says Bankrate’s Greg McBride.

The average credit card debt for U.S. households is more than $15,000, according to the Federal Reserve.

“From a purely financial standpoint, it makes more sense to pay down that high interest rate” before you start to save, says Kelley Long, member of the American Institute of CPAs.

Borrowing money with a credit card is usually very expensive.

“If you are over your head in debt, you might want to consider a balanced transfer card, but you need to have pretty good credit to qualify for the best offers,” says credit card writer Beverly Harzog, author of “The Debt Escape Plan.” A balanced transfer card “would give you an opportunity to pay off your debt while paying zero interest on that.”

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