Consumers are Piling on Credit Card Debt

Now, signs of a looming debt crisis among U.S. consumers are beginning to flash, and it is a triple whammy: credit card balances are at an all-time high, annual percentage rates (APRs) are up and more consumers are taking on debt than in 2021.

Discover Financial Services CFO John Greene issued an ominous warning last week, noting a sharp uptick in delinquencies. “In the card portfolio, the net charge-off rate of 2.37% was 87 basis points higher than the prior year and 45 basis points higher sequentially,” he said during the firm’s fourth-quarter earnings call.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently reported a 15% year-over-year increase in total credit card balances for the third quarter of 2022, which amounts to the largest surge in more than 20 years.

A new report from released Monday shows nearly 3 out of 4 (72%) credit card debtors added to their balances over the past year. Nearly half (48%) took on additional debt due to rising costs, while 34% saw their balances jump due to rising interest rates. Twenty-four percent reported having a disruption in household income.

According to the company’s sister site, there are also more people carrying debt, too. Some 46% of credit card holders are carrying debt from month to month, up from 39% a year ago.