Americans are still being more cautious about carrying credit card debt from one month to the next, even as they continue to expand their credit card use.
Over the last two years, the purchase volume on consumer credit cards issued by the nation's seven largest lenders has expanded 7.6 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively, but at the same time, the balances carried on those accounts has fallen, according to a report from Fitch Ratings. In 2010, consumers' credit card balances slipped 8 percent, and another 1.6 percent in 2011, as borrowers looked for more ways to find debt relief.
This change comes because consumers, eager to reduce debt and get their accounts under control, are now focused more on becoming what are known as "transactors," those who use credit cards in their everyday lives but pay off the balance every month, the report said. In the past, many had been known as "revolvers," those who use their cards but carry a balance from one month to the next.
Consumers' balances have been falling for much of the last two years, with only slight upticks seen around the holiday seasons, which experts say happen every year.