Consumer Finance

US Credit Card Balances End Year At $870B Record High

Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt in the U.S. reached $870 billion at the end of last year, setting a record.

Bloomberg, citing data from the Federal Reserve, reported credit card balances in the third quarter were $26 billion less. While spending tends to increase in the fourth quarter because of the holiday selling season, the Federal Reserve said it’s the first time credit card balances reached “the 2008 nominal peak,” the report said.

According to the report, there are close to 480 million credit cards being used by U.S. consumers as of the fourth quarter. That’s up more than 100 million since the Great Recession of 10 years ago. Credit card debt stands as the fourth biggest portion of U.S. debt as of the end of 2018, and it is growing at a faster pace than other categories. The nation ended the year with $13.5 trillion in debt, a record for the U.S.

Among the credit card holders, Bloomberg reported the Fed found around 37 million credit card accounts were more than 90 days delinquent, which is an increase of around 2 million when compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. The total debt of these 37 million accounts stood at $68 billion as of the end of December. The report noted that this marked the 24th quarter in a row that credit card limits increased. For the fourth quarter of 2018, the increase was 1.5 percent, noted the report.

Among the age groups holding credit card debt, those 60 and older accounted for 30 percent of the total while those in their 70s accounted for more than one in nine dollars of the debt, noted Bloomberg. What’s more, the data shows that credit card debt for older Americans is moving into delinquency at a faster rate. Those in their 50s — a group that holds more than 24 percent of credit card debt — may be the most vulnerable should job loss or salary reductions occur.

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