HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — The serenity of snakes is one reason why 29-year-old Marine Madesclaire has found so much peace whenever she picks hers up.

"I used to have full-blown panic attacks, like full-blown panic attacks. Crying-for-hours panic attacks. Every day," said Madesclaire while she held a snake.

What You Need To Know

  • According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, this year, there has been a 70% increase in Americans paying for rent with credit cards compared to 2019

  • A report from the Global Investment Bank shows Americans currently have $25 billion in rental debt

  • Financial experts recommend the use of credit cards only as a last resort

  • Financial experts urge people to not default on their payments, as a bad credit score can impede them from renting a home, buying or leasing a car, and even getting a job

Madesclaire, who moved to Los Angeles from Seattle five years ago to become an actor, lost all her jobs and gigs the moment the pandemic hit.

"In March, once things became clear about what was going on, I immediately called my landlord, being like, 'Hey, I don't have a job, help.' I called my credit card company. 'I don't have a job, help,'" she said.

Much of her work had been in Las Vegas, but she lives in Hollywood. Both states denied her unemployment insurance, Madesclaire said. She has applied for assistance programs and has relied on friends and family for help.

After months of no income, she began paying for utilities, food, and other staples with her credit card.

"I'm currently maxed out, over my credit limit too, so my credit score is dying," said Madesclaire, who owes over $10,000.

She is part of a growing group of Americans falling back on their credit cards to pay for things such as rent. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, there has been a 70% increase since last year. 

Credit cards should only be used as a last resort, said Winnie Sun, managing director of Sun Group Wealth Partners.

"Once you put your rent and bigger expenses on your credit card, you have a lot of fees. You certainly have [an] interest. There are also late fees, and this can be a very quick balloon." 

Sun's advice: be proactive.

"In this situation, whatever you do, you don't want to stop communicating. You need to reach out to your credit card companies proactively and let them know the situation that you are going through," Sun said.

Although complicated, the situation for Madesclaire is slightly improving. Recently she found a minimum wage office job, which does not dig her out of the whole but is helping with some expenses. She also filmed a movie during her downtime, called The Distanced. Madesclaire has even won some awards.

"I got best actress," Madesclaire said. "[It] was really cool and very validating. If all the rest of it could be a little easier, that would be nice, but at least I'm really proud of that one."