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Credit card use declines, debt prevails

Dec 28, 2010 Brian Bradley

Americans are using their credit cards with less frequency since the start of the recession, but consumer debt remains a significant problem, according to the Asbury Park Press. The paper reports that Americans possess 609 million credit cards, totaling more than $800 billion in debt - roughly 98 percent of all the debt nationwide. The average individual possesses three credit cards with interest rates as high as 14 percent. Currently, the default rate on credit cards sits at 13 percent. Additionally, debt continues to mount despite a slight drop-off in credit card use in 2010, most visible during the holiday shopping season when consumers increased their use of cash. Consumers are paying down their debt - to the tune of $500 billion since the start of the recession - but there is $13 billion in debt to be paid down strictly from the 2009 holiday season. That serves as an indicator of the ongoing struggles individuals face with their credit decisions. The problem is evident among senior citizens. New data from the University of Michigan Law School revealed that senior citizens face bankruptcy due to insurmountable credit card debt a rate 50 percent higher than all other age groups.