Consumer Payment Card News

Card Debt Soars

After a sluggish December and January, American consumers are now racking up credit card debt at a record pace not seen since 1995. During February, U.S. cardholders piled on $11.1 billion to outstanding balances, representing an annual growth rate of 19.9%. The surge in debt appears to be linked to balances sliding forward, and not new spending. According to preliminary figures last week by the Federal Reserve, revolving debt, mostly credit card debt, hit $680.9 billion in February, compared to $669.8 in January and $608.5 billion for February 2000. The growth in revolving credit was the biggest one month gain since September 1995. Overall, consumer credit is growing at a 10.5% rate. At the end of February, American consumers were $1.564 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages. The latest FRB data shows the average annual interest rate charged on credit card accounts that revolve is 15.66%.
REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL
($billions)

Feb 01 Jan01 Dec00 Nov00 Oct00 Sep00 Aug00
%GRWTH 19.9% 11.6 5.0 10.9 4.7 7.8 12.6
$OWED $680.9 669.8 663.4 660.6 654.8 649.3 645.1

Jul00 Jun00 May00 Apr00 Mar00 Feb00 Jan00
%GRWTH 6.7% 11.2 12.7 13.5 13.8 9.4 18.5
$OWED $638.2 634.7 628.9 622.5 615.5 608.5 605.0

Source Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 04/06/01; For complete historical data visit www.carddata.com.

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