The latest credit-card debt report has been issued by CardHub and the news is not good.
Consumers are on track to have a credit-card debt by the end of the year that tops $1 trillion for the first time in history, says CardHub, an online resource for credit card information.
The massive credit-card debt that is being built up could be a factor in a potential upcoming recession, says Jill Gonzalez, analyst for CardHub. Credit-card debt was a factor in the last recession.
Typically the first quarter of the year is when consumers pay down some of the debt they have accumulated over the holidays in the fourth quarter of the previous year. This year, U.S. households paid down roughly $26.8 billion in credit-card debt during the first quarter, the smallest first-quarter pay down since 2008. It also comes on the heels of the $71 billion in credit-card debt that was accumulated in 2015, a number CardHub calls astounding.
Consumers may actually be feeling more confident about the economy, which is prompting them to buy more things, Gonzalez says. Automobile sales had one of the best years ever last year.
“In 2008, credit-card debt reached unsustainable levels and people could not pay it off. It is reaching the same tipping point today,” says Gonzalez. “There is a lot of uncertainty now in overseas markets and oil prices, but people are out-spending themselves. We are not expecting it to improve during the rest of the year.”
Average credit-card debt per household was $8,400 in 2008 and will approach $8,500 by the end of this year if the trend continues, CardHub says. Although the average indebted household’s balance dipped to $7,597 during the first quarter, this still represents a 6 percent increase over the first quarter of 2015, and is just $831 below the tipping point CardHub identified as being unsustainable.
“Something clearly has to give, and it does not seem to be our spending habits,” says CardHub.The study is available here.