- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Finance website finder.com reported on Monday that “if the current growth rate of credit cards continues, the number of cards in circulation” in the United States “will reach 454 million by the end of this year, and hit the peak of GFC [global financial crisis] levels by the second quarter of 2018, at 495.8 million cards.”

The Australian-based website arrived at the numbers via data provided by the New York Federal Consumer Credit Panel and Equifax.

“This is a worrying number of cards in circulation, because it has the potential to create too much bad debt that consumers can’t get out of,” said finder.com’s Michelle Hutchison.

Perhaps adding to the concern is that more Americans with low credit scores are returning to plastic for their purchases, as finance website pymnts.com noted on Wednesday.

“[S]ince 2014 the card spending habits of the American people have shifted back toward favoring debt, and card balances have risen an accompanying $70 billion,” reported the website, citing data obtained from the New York Federal Reserve.

Even so, “only 1 percent of card balances are seriously delinquent, or 90-180 days past due,” pymnts.com noted. “Very derogatory balances written off by banks are also at a historically low 6.2 percent.”

“This improvement is consistent with other observable improvements,” in consumer debt since the depths of the 2008 recession, said pymnts.com.

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