On a year-over-year basis, the amount of credit card debt carried by consumers increased significantly, reversing months of downward trends.
The amount of credit card debt held nationwide surged in March, rising 7.8 percent on an annual basis, to a total of $803.6 billion, according to the latest monthly statistics from the Federal Reserve Board. That's the largest total seen this year, and, despite declines in both January and February, more or less returned consumers to the levels seen at the end of last year, when they owed $803.8 billion. However, that total is still well below the all-time high of nearly $989.1 billion observed in December 2008.
Borrowing on other non-mortgage installment loans, like education and auto financing, also increased in March, the report said. It rose 11.3 percent year-over-year to nearly $1.74 trillion, and has continued to rise significantly in every month so far this year.
Consumers who take on more in outstanding balances they can afford to pay back may end up having to seek out a number of debt relief options to keep themselves from running into significant financial problems.