From 2004 to 2008, while we all were busy flipping houses and blindly investing in luxury condo developments in Appalachia, credit card users were also spending $2.1 billion more in purchases than they were in bill payments. Since 2009, that tide has turned drastically.
According to TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus, consumers actually spent $72 billion more paying down their credit cards than making actual purchases in 2009 and 2010.
“Our analysis shows that consumers have made a concerted effort to pay down their credit cards during these uncertain economic times,” said TransUnion’s VP of research and consulting. “This reversal is even more profound when you consider that alternative forms of revolving credit, e.g. home equity lines of credit, were far more accessible in 2004 than in 2009… So while charge-offs have played a major role in lower credit card debt levels, it was not the only factor. Consumers were also paying down their debt across the risk spectrum.”
In the first quarter of 2009, the average credit card debt in the U.S. was at $5,776. It recently reached a 10-year low of $4,679 in the first quarter of 2011.
So congratulations to credit card holders of America! Go out and reward yourself for your responsibility by buying a speed boat!
TransUnion: Consumers paying down credit cards [Chicago Tribune]