The average household with credit card balances now owes $7,879, a surging trend indicating that consumers are reverting to pre-recession debt levels of more than five years ago, according to new research from CardHub.com.
Average debts in 2015 hit levels not seen since the Great Recession, CardHub found. That $7,879 level is about $500 below the “tipping point” that CardHub says is unsustainable.
The $52.4 billion in new credit card debt that U.S. consumers added to their debt tab in the fourth quarter of 2015 is the largest fourth-quarter buildup since the Great Recession – 42 percent higher than the post-recession average for the fourth quarter of the year (2009-2014), CardHub says.
“With 8 of the past 10 quarters reflecting year-over-year regression in consumer performance, evidence is mounting to support the notion that credit card users are reverting to pre-downturn bad habits,” Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of CardHub, wrote in the report.
America’s outstanding credit card debt surpassed projections for 2015, climbing to $917.7 billion, up from a forecast of $900 billion, CardHub said.
If there is a bright side, it’s this: Consumers are generally current on their debts, with delinquencies still relatively low.
“While credit card debt levels are trending significantly upward, charge-off rates remain near historical lows and are, in fact, down on a year-over-year basis,” Papadimitriou wrote. “Something clearly has to give, and it does not seem to be our spending habits.”