Borrowers Revert to Pre-Recession Card Habits
Consumers may have already forgotten some of the debt management lessons they learned during the Great Recession, according to Cardhub.com, a website that helps consumers find and manage credit cards.
Consumers have historically paid down their credit card revolving balances during the first quarter of the year using tax refunds, annual bonuses and New Year’s resolutions to fuel their efforts, wrote CardHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou in a June 6 report on the topic.
However, the past two years have shown a trend of decreasing pay down activity during the first quarter and annual increases in outstanding credit card debt, he said.
“Last year’s first quarter pay down was 4% smaller than in 2012, and we ended 2013 having incurred 6% more debt overall. This year’s first quarter pay down was even smaller still. As a result, CardHub projects that we will end 2014 with a $41.9 billion net increase in credit card debt – 8% more than we racked up last year and a 14% increase relative to 2012,” Papadimitriou added.
The average consumer household card debt declined $352 in the first quarter, leaving the average consumer household with a card balance of $6,628.
Recent first quarter pay down numbers were significantly below those reported in 2008 and 2009, when consumers paid down debt in the face of the Great Recession.
In addition to increased outstanding balances, more good news for lenders was found in default data. Card defaults appear to have stabilized at 3.32%, one of the lowest rates ever, Cardhub said.