People are carrying less credit-card debt, and fewer card users are delinquent on their payments, separate surveys indicate.
According to consumer-issues magazine Consumer Reports, the proportion of people with more than $10,000 in credit card debt fell from 30 percent last year to 23 percent of people today.
The median balance of American cardholders is on the decline, too. Cardholders surveyed by Consumer Reports in July had a median debt load of $3,793; in 2009, that figure was $1,100 higher.
And, the American Banking Association says, the delinquency rate among bank-card users is falling. The group reported October 5 that the bank-card delinquency rate is just 3.62 percent – significantly lower than the 15-year average of 3.93 percent.
Consumers may be growing more financially responsible, ABA chief economist James Chessen suggested. Americans, he said, are "reducing debt levels [and] using cards less."
The credit-card reforms enacted last year may have something to do with the shift in borrowing behavior, particularly among young people. People under 21 must have their parent co-sign to get a credit card, and payment schedules must be spelled out on card statements so borrowers can see how long their debt will take to pay off.