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Debt assumed during holiday season can have long-term effects

Mar 04, 2011 Brian Bradley

Consumerism reached a number of new records during the 2010 holiday season, but despite consumer willingness to spend, individuals will be paying for their purchases well after the shine of new gifts wears off. According to new data released from Experian on Wednesday, the average consumer possessed more than $4,200 in bankcard debt at the end of 2010. While the average number of bankcards owned by consumers has fallen nearly 23 percent since 2007, consumers have been more willing to carry more debt on their existing accounts. On average, consumers' bankcard balances exceed 30 percent of their credit - a 10 percent increase since 2007. If a consumer assumes a high balance on their credit cards, they may see adverse effects on their credit scores. "We want consumers to understand that overspending at the holidays or at any other time of year can often have broader implications to their overall fiscal fitness," said Maxine Sweet, vice president of public education at Experian. "By carrying over credit card balances and utilizing a significant portion of their available balance, they can potentially negatively affect their credit scores." Of the top 25 cities observed, cardholders in San Antonio, Texas, had the highest balances, averaging $5,177 per card. Conversely, cardholders in Orlando, Florida, possesses average balances of $4,525 - the lowest of the 25 cities.