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Americans' credit card debt hits record $1.13 trillion

Credit card debt increased by $50 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023.



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Americans' credit card balances climbed to a new record high $1.13 trillion, according to data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Credit card debt increased by $50 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023 alone, a 4.6% jump from the previous quarter.

The data on credit card debt comes as total household debt rose by $212 billion to reach $17.5 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to the New York Fed's latest "Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit."

 

In a potentially concerning sign for consumers and the broader economy, the number of Americans who are late making their credit card payments is also ticking up.

Delinquencies – reflecting missed payments on credit card bills – increased across all age groups. Borrowers between the ages of 30-39 are missing their payments at especially fast rates.

 

"In the case of credit cards, it looks like things have reverted to a level that is worse than pre-pandemic," New York Fed researchers told reporters on a call Tuesday.

 

The researchers said higher credit card debt is "not a flashing red signal" but is indicative of strain on many households' budgets. Credit card balances first surpassed $1 trillion last August.

Americans are also taking more debt when they're buying cars. Auto loan balances rose by $12 billion in the fourth quarter to $1.61 trillion, while delinquencies also rose.

New York Fed researchers attributed some of the rising auto debt to higher prices for new and used cars in the wake of the pandemic.



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