American Shoppers Are Back To Using Their Credit Cards

When the economy jumped head-first into a drained pool in 2008, many American shoppers turned away from using their credit cards to make purchases, instead opting to use debit cards and cash. But during the last six months, the numbers show that we’ve returned to pressing the “credit” button at the checkout line.

In each of the first three quarters of 2011, credit card purchases continued to rise, up 10.6% in the third quarter alone. Meanwhile, debit card purchases are up, but nowhere near as steeply, with a third quarter increase of 5.9%.

Obviously the numbers for the final quarter won’t be ready for some time, but this year’s Black Friday purchases showed a jump of 7.4% over 2010 numbers for credit cards and a 3.4% increase in debit card use.

A number of bank customers have shunned their debit cards as their financial institutions have eliminated debit rewards programs and attempted to attach new and higher fees. At the same time, the credit card providers began re-flooding our mailboxes with offers last year, an effort that appears to be bearing some fruit.

What remains to be seen is whether this increase in credit card use will result in a spike in credit card delinquencies. Last spring, delinquent payments were at their lowest rate since I had a full head of hair and Kurt Cobain was still alive.

Credit card use is on the rise []

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.