Credit unions with credit card programs might see a significant uptick in their credit card balances based on Federal Reserve data from the end of 2010.

In its latest Consumer Credit Report, the Federal Reserve reported that revolving credit, which is primarily credit card debt, increased in December at an annual rate of 3.5%.

This was the first increase in 27 months and left the total credit card debt outstanding at the end of the year at $800.5 billion, an increase of $2.3 billion from November.

Credit card debt has declined 18% since August 2008 when it was $974 billion, according to market analysts.

Economists quoted in media reports about the increase have split on whether the increased use of credit cards represents a good or bad sign for the economy overall. Economists seeing it as a good sign have pointed to the proof of an increased demand and improved economic activity. Economists seeing it as a bad sign have pointed to Americans’ continuing need to save more.