But credit card debt fell 6.4 percent in January the 28th decline in 29 months to the lowest level since September 2004. Americans had increased their use of plastic in December for the first time since the financial crisis. But they cut back in January, even though a Social Security tax cut is giving most households an extra $1,000 to 2,000 this year.
“People are still pretty cautious about using their credit cards,” said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor’s in New York. “We are coming out of a deep recession, in which a lot of people got caught with too much debt.”
Consumer debt is 0.7 percent above a three-year low hit in September. It is 6.6 percent below the peak hit in July 2008.
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