Americans' Use of Credit Continues Decline: Equifax
Total consumer credit card debt was $603.4 billion in January 2013, down 0.85% from January of the previous year, according to new Credit Trends Report data from Equifax, one of the three major national credit reporting bureaus.
By comparison, the total consumer credit card debt declined by 1.56% between January 2011 and January 2012.
The credit bureau reported that all major metropolitan areas across the country saw a decline with only consumers in Houston increasing the amount of credit they carried.
Equifax also reported that not only are consumers declining to add to the credit they already have, they are also underusing the credit lines they have as well.
Credit card utilization -- the percentage of the credit limit that people have used-- has declined during the past two Januaries.
Credit card utilization was 21.97% in January 2013, down from 22.62% in January 2012 and 24.09 % in January 2011. The declines occurred in all of the top 25 metro areas, as well as the country as a whole.
"These new reports, along with other data we have examined on credit scores and total consumer debt, tell the story that consumers continue to be disciplined in their borrowing," said Trey Loughran, president of the Personal Solutions division at Equifax. "It is particularly interesting to look at January data, as that month always has the highest consumer credit card debt totals, with many consumers experiencing a bit of a 'hangover' from holiday spending,” Loughran said. “We expect this 'disciplined consumer' trend to continue for a while. Even as the economy improves, people remain cautious about taking on new debt."