The credit card market is stabilizing and continues to grow, according to Equifax’s latest National Consumer Credit Trends Report.
“The credit card market is starting to look like its old self, with the number of cards outstanding at a 28-month high, delinquency rates below pre-recession levels and utilization rates at 6-year lows,” says Amy Crews Cutts, Equifax’s chief economist.
For the first time since April 2010, the total number of bank credit accounts surpassed 300 million.
Bank credit card origination credit limits are also on the rise, up 36% from recession lows, year-to-date through June. From 2010, credit card origination credit limits increased $31.8 billion, to $87.3 billion in 2012.
The volume of available credit has been on the rise since February 2011. In August, $1.87 trillion dollars were available.
In May, utilization rates fell to a five-year low—22.1%—and rose only slightly in August to 22.4%.
According to the trends report, retail cards are also seeing growth.
Retail credit card origination credit limits increased from $25.8 billion in 2010 to $30.4 billion through June 2012—a more than 15% increase.
Total retail credit card limits are at the highest levels in 27 months with a 15% increase from May 2012. From May to August of this year, total retail credit card limits have increased $50 billion to hit $340 billion.
“I think we are in a new paradigm, that of the disciplined consumer,” Crews Cutts says. “More credit is being made available, more cards accounts being opened, yet the use of that credit remains very subdued and the amount consumers pay each month has been rising, so they’re paying off their debts faster.”
Headquartered in Atlanta, Equifax publishes monthly trends reports and commits to providing businesses with data on more than 81 million businesses and 500 million consumers.