If the recent holiday shopping season is any indication, consumers may be setting aside their caution with credit card spending and are back to consuming through debt.
Compared to the 2012 holiday season when more consumers used cash and savings accounts, this year the average consumer racked up more than $350 in credit card debt, says SaveUp, a company that uses rewards to encourage consumers to save money and pay down debt.
When SaveUp polled American consumers in early November as the 2013 holiday shopping season began, nearly 70 percent said they planned to use cash or saving accounts for holiday spending.
"Despite their lofty goals, consumers actually funded the 2013 holiday with debt and entered the New Year with bigger bills," SaveUp states in the report.
San Francisco-based SaveUp views the trend as a break from positive habits that consumers had embraced in previous years.
During the 2012 holiday season, American consumers withdrew an average of nearly $700 from savings accounts to cover holiday spending. Those who had money market accounts also withdrew heavily over the same period, at an average of $1,000, the report states.
While the average consumer now faces more than $350 in debt this year, many consumers were paying down previous debt of nearly $1,000 on average during the holiday season last year, SaveUp says.
In addition more consumers opened a line of credit of nearly $1,200 during the 2013 holidays, compared to paying down those types of loans last year.
"As the banking industry continues to rebound from 2009 and debt becomes more accessible, Americans are falling back into old habits," Priya Haji, CEO of SaveUp, states in a press release. "These habits will need to be broken in order to avoid the constant threat of financial ebb and flow."
The SaveUp U.S. Consumer Savings and Debt Report analyzes the savings and debt levels of the company's customer base and makes comparisons in a time frame between 30 and 90 days prior to the month of the report. The January 2014 report was based on the data from more than 20,000 SaveUp users' savings and debt balances.
SaveUp partners with major retailers and banks to provide consumers rewards for positive financial actions. The company says it has completed bank-level security audits for its data encryption technology, and Intuit handles its back-end aggregation technology.