Credit card debt keeps falling

The average amount of credit card debt being carried by American households is now at levels considerably lower than what was observed two years ago, even as the amount of people who have these accounts has grown.

As of the end of March, the average American household carried $6,772 in credit card debt, down from the $7,219 observed for the same period in 2010, according to new data from the consumer advice site NerdWallet. Overall, the amount of debt carried on all consumer accounts totaled $803.6 billion, a decline of $39 billion in the last two years.

And at the same time, the number of households has grown by nearly 2 million, so even though the number of consumers who carry a credit card balance has grown to 46.7 percent from 43.2 percent over the last two years, debt has been spread out more, the report said. Nonetheless, even among only those households carrying their own credit cards, and therefore excluding millions of consumers who do not have their own cards or do not carry a balance, average credit card debts have shrunk to $14,517 from $16,383 at the end of March 2010.

These figures highlight the continuing trends observed since the end of the recession, as many borrowers have made significant efforts to reduce their outstanding credit card debts to get better control of their finances, the report said. Prior to the onset of the recession, millions continued to increase the amount they borrowed significantly, to an all-time high of nearly $18,000 in late 2008, but that figure has fallen appreciably.

That is, perhaps, a function of the downturn itself, as the amount of households that carried balances at all fell from 47.8 percent to a low of 43.2 percent in late 2009, the report said. That figure has begun to tick back up again as consumers resumed borrowing as the economy improved, but still shied away from rebuilding their balances significantly.

Consumers who are concerned about their finances might want to take the time to check their credit reports. Occasionally, these documents will have unfair markings that can take a toll on their credit ratings, but working with a credit repair company can help to clear up these problems and get their finances back on the right track.