American consumers did their best to improve the retail economy over the latest holiday period, using their credit cards to drive credit card debt to the highest level in nearly five years, according to the latest National Consumer Credit Trends report released Wednesday by Equifax.
Total consumer credit card debt rose to $642 billion in December, nearly a 6 percent jump compared to $607 billion in December 2013, the credit rating service announced in a release. This is the highest that credit card debt has been since April 2010.
Spenders in the Tacoma-Seattle area were not as profligate as those in other metropolitan areas, but still managed to increase credit card debt by 4.29 percent to $10.46 billion.
Houston saw the greatest increase among the top 25 regions, with credit card debt rising 9.37 percent from December 2013 to December 2014, Equifax stated.
The Tacoma-Seattle figure placed the area in 12th position when compared to other regions, lower than leaders New York and Los Angeles (at $54.6 billion and $37.4 billion respectively), but ahead of Miami, Minneapolis, Denver, Pittsburgh and other areas.
The increase of more than 4 percent in all regions, Equifax stated, is in “marked contrast to the previous year, when none of the top 25 markets saw as much as a 4 percent gain, and, in fact, some markets experienced decreases in total credit card debt.”
An increase in credit card debt “indicates consumers are beginning to feel more confident about the economy and their personal finances," said Trey Loughran, president of Equifax Personal Information Solutions.