Americans are carrying more credit card debt than a year ago, yet the late-payment rate for card holders remains near an 18-year low, an analysis of consumer-credit data shows.
The average credit card debt per borrower in the U.S. grew about 6 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, credit reporting agency TransUnion said Tuesday.
At the same time, the rate of payments at least 90 days overdue inched higher to 0.63 percent from 0.60 percent in the same period last year, when the rate hit the lowest level in 18 years. Card delinquencies sank to 0.56 percent in the third quarter of 1994, the firm said.
The April-to-June figures reflect how consumers have been managing their credit card use since the start of the last recession toward the end of 2007.
Many borrowers have taken steps to save money and whittle down their debt. Among homeowners with a mortgage, many have made credit card bills a priority over their home loans and other financial obligations.
While late payments hover near lows not seen since the 1990s, cardholders have been racking up more debt.
In the second quarter, the average credit card debt per borrower rose 6 percent from a year earlier to $4,971, TransUnion said. That's still about 13 percent less than $5,719, the average credit card debt per borrower in the second quarter of 2009. The latest figure was essentially flat from the first quarter of this year.
Between 2009 and 2011, borrowers pulled back on using credit and made an effort to slash their debt.
Average credit card balances also rose on an annual basis in the first three months of the year, as hiring picked up nationally and consumer confidence improved. It's too early to tell whether credit card debt will continue to climb, however.