Credit use is up from the last time the CFPB conducted their research; the total amount of accounts, credit lines, credit card debt, and online card services enrollment have all increased. This is the third year that the CFPB has released this report; previous reports were issued in 2013 and 2015.
Certain key findings were troubling: average credit card debt is up 9% over the last two years, and average balances have increased more quickly for folks with poor credit. Cardholders who are considered sub-prime have seen their average credit card debt jump by 26% over the past two years. However, the average number of credit cards held by each household has decreased slightly. While before the recession, the average household had five credit cards, that has dropped to four cards now.
Online accounts and secured cards are on the rise
The CFPB found that many people are taking advantage of online services offered by their credit card issuers. More than 60% of credit card accounts are enrolled in online services, the survey found. Using their online accounts, folks can see their balance, pay their bill, transfer money, analyze spending, and make plans to pay down debt using debt calculators.
Secured credit cards are also increasingly popular among many consumers. These cards are readily available to people with poor credit or no credit, and are often used to build credit history and improve credit scores. Since many people are trying to repair their credit and achieve a good credit score, these cards are doing well. The number of new secured card accounts was 7% higher in 2016 than 2017, and accounted for about 5% of all general-purpose credit card account originations. They are especially popular among the 21-34 year-old demographic.
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