According to the latest quarterly report on household debt, credit cards are making a comeback in a big way. In the second quarter, total household debt increased by $35 billion to $12.3 trillion. The two driving factors: auto loans and credit cards.
While auto loans have been on a steady incline for the past six years, rising credit-card balances are a new development. After the 2007 Great Recession, households cut back on credit-card use until 2014. This was also in part to financial institutions strengthening credit requirements for risky borrowers.
Since that time, card balances have risen by about $70 billion. From 2008 to 2013, total household debts dropped by more than $1.5 trillion. However, first student loan and auto loan balances began to rise, and then mortgages and finally credit cards.
The report reveals that credit cards are returning among individuals with low credit or subprime credit scores below 660. Among people with credit scores between 620 and 660, the share that had a credit card increased to 58.8% in 2015 from a low of 54.3% in 2013. Among those with scores below 620, the number of people with a credit card increased to 50% from a low of 45.6% two years ago. Both figures for 2015 are the highest since 2008.
These figures were generated from the New York Fed’s Consumer Credit Panel that analyzed millions of consumer credit reports from Equifax.
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