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Americans Now Have 70 Million More Credit Cards Than in 2019, Balances Top $1 Trillion

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Americans Now Have 70 Million More Credit Cards Than in 2019

Credit card balances surpassed $1 trillion for the first time last quarter based on the data shared by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The numbers show how even more widespread credit has become among American consumers as the US economy recovered from the pandemic.

Balances increased by $45 billion, the most of all debt types, to $1.03 trillion in the second quarter, the New York Fed said in a report Tuesday. After a sharp contraction in the first year of the pandemic, credit card balances have seen seven quarters of year-over-year growth. The second quarter of 2023 saw a sharp 16.2 percent increase from the previous year, continuing this strong trend.

As more Americans add to their credit card debt, the percentage of people who are behind in their payments has also been on the rise. Delinquency rates have now returned to pre-Covid levels, but the two most recent quarters “appear to show some stabilization,” New York Fed economists wrote in a blog post.

Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, credit card delinquencies were “fairly widespread” and ticked even higher during that downturn, according to New York Fed researchers. Yet the current rates—while above the extraordinarily low numbers seen during the pandemic, when people were spending less and government stimulus was helping households—are still within historic norms.

There’s also some interesting information that was shared about the total of new credit card accounts. The New York Fed says that now there are 70 million more credit card accounts open now than there were in 2019, before the pandemic. What’s more, about 69 percent of Americans had a credit card account in the second quarter of 2023, up from 65 percent in December of 2019 and only 59 percent in December of 2013.

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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