Here’s the Latest on Credit Card Debt and the U.S. Consumer

U.S. consumer credit card debt has recently risen slightly but let's look at the overall trend during the past year or so.

Here's an excerpt from a May 18 article:

Revolving debt has declined during the COVID-19 pandemic... Here's an overview of credit card debt among U.S. consumers:

  • $1,621 per account, U.S. adults with a credit report and Social Security number.
  • $2,044 average balance on store credit cards.1
  • $3,824 per person, U.S. resident adults
  • $5,111 per cardholder, excluding unused cards and store cards
  • $4,600 per U.S. adult with a credit card
  • $5,897 average balance on credit cards at the end of 2020, according to Experian. That is down 11.04%, from $6,629 at the end of 2019. [emphasis added]...

As more Americans get vaccinated and more states open, credit card debt is ticking back up a bit. Americans' outstanding revolving debt, most of which is credit card debt, reached $980.4 billion for the first quarter of 2021, according to data from the Federal Reserve.

That's an increase from a low of $974.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020, after the amount of revolving debt owed by U.S. consumers fell throughout the year.

The monthly Elliott Wave Financial Forecast offered a longer-term perspective in September 2020:


[This chart depicts] revolving consumer credit, which is dominated by credit card debt... Its steady deterioration shows that the Fed is up against more than just a short-term, pandemic-induced decline in demand. After gradually slowing for decades, the one-year rate of change in revolving credit (bottom graph) finally slipped below zero in January 2009, two months before the end of the last bear market. The most recent peak rate of change occurred in February 2017 at 7%, which is easily the lowest peak growth rate in the last 40 years.