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Written by Cyndie Martini
on April 26, 2022

The good news for credit card processors is that consumer spending hasn't slowed down. According to a Wallet Hub 2021 credit card debt study, consumers added $87.3 billion in new credit card debt. Amazingly, $74.1 billion of that came in Q4. To get an idea of how much consumers are spending, the average credit card debt over the last ten years has been $48 billion. From the Motley Fool, consumers are utilizing only 25.2% of their available credit, leaving plenty of potential spending power available.

More recent data from the government's Consumer Credit - G.19 report shows that revolving credit increased by 20.9% in February 2022, the largest increase since 2017. Outstanding credit at credit unions for Feb 2022 was $538.7 billion, the largest going back to 2017.

So what are consumers spending on? As the services sector opens up, the shift from goods to services will continue to play out. Consumers are spending on flights, hotels, restaurants, and other services-related activities.

Even though the consumer is strong, they still haven't returned to the pre-pandemic level of spending. From FED data, credit card spending was still 7% below the pre-pandemic peak of early December of 2021. Credit card balances were over $850 billion right as the pandemic hit. As of the beginning of 2022, credit card balances were just getting back to the $800 billion mark.

The reason for the large drop in credit card debt post-pandemic was due to people paying down their balances. Stimulus checks largely went towards debt paydown.

For 2022, US News says there are four trends to look out for:

  • More credit card offers and expansion of the subprime market
  • Increase in consumer credit card debt
  • Balance transfer cards making a comeback
  • Buy now, pay later as an integral feature of credit cards

 

 

 

 

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