Consumer Payment Card News

Debt Uptick

The revolving debt machine may be cranking up as the economy begins to recover. Consumer revolving credit for September and October posted strong gains compared to last year. During October, Americans added $2.2 billion to revolving credit at an annual growth rate of 3.6%, more than twice the rate of growth one-year ago. Revised figures, released last week by the Federal Reserve, also show that September’s figures were better than previously reported. September’s revised growth rate is 6.5% compared to 3.0% for September 2002. For October, consumers owed $735.3 billion in revolving credit, mostly credit card debt. Bank credit card debt (excluding store and gas credit cards) at the end of the third quarter was $645.7 billion, or roughly 88% of total revolving credit, according to CardData (www.carddata.com). At the end of October, Americans were $1977.3 billion in debt, excluding home mortgages.

                     REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL ($billions)
          Oct03   Sept03  Aug03   Jul 03    Jun03     May03   Apr03
  GRWTH:   3.6%    6.5     3.4    1.4      -2.4       7.7     3.4
  $OWED: $735.3   733.1   729.1   726.8     725.9     727.9   722.8

           Mar 03   Feb03    Jan03   Dec02   Nov02    Oct02    Sep02
  GRWTH:    4.1%    5.9       5.2     -6.7   -1.4      1.6      3.0
  $OWED:  $720.7    718.6    715.5   712.4   716.8    717.9    721.3
              Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 12/05/03;
             For complete historical data visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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