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CFPB: Annual Consumer Spending on Credit Cards Hit $3.2 Trillion in 2022

Consumers have been racking up credit card debt in the time since pandemic-era relief programs ended.

Total outstanding credit card debt topped $1 trillion at the end of 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said in a Wednesday (Oct. 25) press release.

During the same year, annual spending on credit cards increased to $3.2 trillion, the release said.

The regulator also found that card holders’ average credit card balances returned to about $5,300, which is about the same as before the pandemic, per the release.

In addition, more card holders are carrying balances month to month, falling behind on payments and going more than 180 days delinquent, the release said. Nearly 10% of credit card users are in “persistent debt,” meaning they are charged more in interest and fees each year than they pay toward the principal.

“Pandemic relief programs in 2020 and 2021 enabled some card holders to pay down credit card balances, but the number of people facing persistent debt could climb if interest rates remain elevated,” the CFPB said in the release.

During 2022, consumers paid more than $105 billion in interest and more than $25 billion in fees, according to the release. Card holders who carried a balance paid about 20% of their average balance in interest and fees over the year. Many of those with subprime scores paid 30% to 40%.

Another figure that returned to its pre-pandemic level in 2022 is the amount consumers paid in late fees, per the release. Card holders paid $14.5 billion in late fees in 2022, up from $11.3 billion in 2021.

“More consumers are facing difficulties paying their credit card bills on time, with delinquency rates rising since the end of pandemic relief programs in 2021,” the CFPB said in the release.

It was reported in June that at least three credit card companies — Capital One, Discover and Bread Financial — recorded credit card delinquency rates that exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Delinquency rates typically drop in May as tax rebates arrive, but this year they went up.

Capital One reported July 20 that the 30-day performing delinquency rate was 3.7% in the most recent period, up from 2.4% the previous year.