Consumer credit card debt tops $1 trillion for the first time ever

Consumer credit card debt tops $1 trillion for the first time ever
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  • Consumer credit card debt just topped $1 trillion for the first time ever, according to the Federal Reserve.
  • "Credit card balances saw brisk growth in the second quarter" of nearly 5%, the New York Fed's Joelle Scally said.
  • A recent survey from BankRate found 47% of consumers are carrying credit card debt from month to month.

Americans are relying on their credit card more and more to fuel a steady increase in consumer spending, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Consumer credit card debt increased 4.6% in the second-quarter to a record $1.03 trillion, compared to $986 billion in the first quarter.

"Credit card balances saw brisk growth in the second quarter," the New York Fed's Joelle Scally said in a Wednesday press release. The New York Fed also said total household debt increased to $17.06 trillion, which includes mortgages, student loan debt, and auto loans, among other debts.

The $1 trillion milestone in credit card debt comes at a tricky time for consumers, as they are forced to navigate a period of elevated interest rates, which has significantly increased the cost of servicing debts. The national average credit card interest rate has increased 29% to nearly 21% since the Fed started hiking interest rates in March 2022, according to data from

Those higher interest rates hurt consumers that carry credit card debt from month to month, which Bankrate found in a recent survey makes up about 47% of consumers. That's an increase from 46% in December 2022 and 39% in December 2021, suggesting that the average consumer is getting more financially stretched.


Lower-income households were more likely to carry credit card debt from month to month, according to the survey, with 53% of cardholders with annual incomes below $50,000 carrying debt. That's compared to just 38% of households with incomes of more than $100,000 carrying debt from month to month.

A worrying sign for consumer health is the fact that serious delinquency rates for credit cards have seen a steady increase over the past year to 5.08% from 3.35% last year, according to the Fed.

But there is some encouraging data that shows the US consumer is still on solid footing and can manage the ongoing increase in credit card debt. Specifically, overall delinquency rates were mostly flat in the second-quarter and have remained low since the pandemic began in March 2020, and though credit card delinquency rates have increased, they're still below pre-pandemic levels.

"While delinquency rates have edged up, they appear to have normalized to pre-pandemic levels," Scally said.

Another sign of encouragement is that while total household debt has steadily increased in recent years, so too has household assets, enough to more than offset the amount of debt. At the end of the first quarter, consumers held $168.5 trillion in total assets, which includes home equity, investments, and cash, among other asset classes.


"What they don't tell you is how strong the denominator [assets relative to debt] has been. [The S&P 500] SPY up more than 500% since the start of 2009," Carson Group's chief market strategist Ryan Detrick tweeted on Monday. "Yes, that's a lot of credit card debt, but most people are worth a lot more."