credit card debt

Consumers made $72 billion more in credit card payments than they did purchases in 2009, according to a new consumer study from TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus in the United States. According to this recent report, which tracked consumer debt patterns between the first quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010, credit card use has changed--and so has the way consumers treat the repayment of card debt.

Cardholders more serious about repaying debt

According to the study, in 2004, Americans made roughly $2.1 billion more in purchases than they did payments on their credit cards. By early 2010, that trend had reversed significantly as cardholders made an effort to pay down their debt and spend more wisely. TransUnion believes these changes have come about as the result of the uncertain economic period of the past few years.

Despite the troubled economy and its gradual recovery, cardholders on the whole have reversed the trend in consumer debt by paying back nearly $75 billion, at a time when home equity lines of credit and other sources of credit were less available to cover credit card debt. Even as consumers turn in large numbers to prepaid credit cards and rewards credit card deals to help balance the books, they are doing what they can to repay debt - and their efforts are borne out in the numbers.

Credit card debt at a 10-year low

TransUnion reports that the average credit card debt per borrower has continued to decrease since the Great Recession:

  • $5,776 in the first quarter of 2009
  • $5,165 in the first quarter of 2010
  • $4,679 in the first quarter of 2011

The current credit card debt is the lowest the U.S. has seen in 10 years, according to TransUnion.