American consumers ended last year with $660.9 billion in bank credit card debt, an 8.8% increase over the previous year. The growth was driven by MasterCard’s 14.5% gain in credit card outstandings last year, as the country’s second largest payment card network overtook VISA as the largest provider of bank credit cards. At the end of 2002, MasterCard had 266.9 million credit cards in-force compared to VISA’s 258.4 million. It is expected that MasterCard will surpass VISA in outstandings this quarter. However, VISA maintains a much larger share of credit card volume, 42%, versus MasterCard’s 34%. VISA also dominates the off-line debit card market. The overall growth in bank credit card outstandings last year was an improvement over 2001’s 6.9% gain, but well below 2000’s 16% gain in outstandings. Since 84 million U.S. households have at least one credit card, the average bank credit card debt per household now stands at $7,868. Retail credit card debt is expected to fall between $95 billion and $98 billion for 2002.