While credit cards may be a convenience for some individuals, they can be burdensome for others. Knowing that there is an outstanding balance on a credit card can cause undue stress, especially when the economy isn’t booming. This overall lack of consumer confidence
led to an 11 percent year-over-year decline in credit card balances in 2011.
The decrease in credit card debt was revealed in a report released today by CreditKarma.com. The U.S. Credit Score Climate Report showed that the average credit card balance held by U.S. consumers was $6,576. In 2010 the average was $7,404.
Although credit card debt trended downwards when comparing the year-over-year data, the month-over-month data shows that residents in many states used their credit cards during the holiday season. Average credit card debt rose by five percent in Delaware (up to $7,423) and Rhode Island (up to $6,388) in December 2011. Four percent increases were seen in Arizona ($6,300) and New Hampshire ($7,748).
CreditKarma’s report also looked at non-credit card debt trends over the year. According to the data, the average consumer with a CreditKarma.com account:
Kept home mortgage debt steady at $173,876
Decreased home equity debt by four percent to $47,905
Increased auto loans by two percent to $15,504
Decreased student loan debt by nine percent to $26,272
So credit card debt, home equity debt and student loan debt trended downwards but auto loan balances increased. Perhaps the extra wiggle room in the monthly budget achieved by paying down other debts led consumers to new car purchases.