Credit card use fell again in April

The amount of credit card debt being carried by consumers has fluctuated somewhat in the last several months, posting both losses and gains on an annual basis, but the latest data shows that these outstanding balances fell once again in April.

In all, the amount of credit card debt Americans held slipped 4.8 percent in April after posting a 5.1 percent gain in March, according to the latest monthly data published by the Federal Reserve Board. Through the end of April, balances stood at a total of $862.3 billion, down from March's $865.7 billion but still up, if only slightly, from the $862 billion seen in February.

But despite these improvements in the amount of revolving credit consumers carried, the overall debts consumers faced increased 3.1 percent to a total of slightly more than $2.55 trillion, the report said. This was due to another gain in nonrevolving credit (installment loans not including mortgages, usually for auto financing and student loans), which climbed 7.1 percent on an annual basis to nearly $1.69 trillion. That's up from March's total of more than $1.67 trillion, but also the smallest gain from one month to the next seen in half a year. This may indicate that consumer interest in credit in general is starting to slow a bit.

However, at the same time, the amount of credit issued by the federal government for education financing rose once again in April, to a total of $458.7 billion, up from $452.6 billion in March, the report said. That's up from $417.4 billion at the end of last year, and an increase of more than $100 billion from the just $347.5 billion seen at the end of the first quarter last year.

Credit card interest rates stay flat
Meanwhile, even as consumers made more conscientious efforts to reduce their outstanding credit card debt, the interest rates they paid on those accounts remained the same, the report said. Through the end of the first quarter, interest rates on all accounts stood at an average of 12.34 percent, while the rates for credit cards that were assessed interest charges was 13.04 percent. Both figures were unchanged from February, but remained a mixed bag when compared with the end of last year when the average card rates stood at 12.36 percent.

Consumers who want to guarantee that they get the best interest rates on any types of loans they seek should take the time to carefully review their credit reports before applying. This will help them to identify any potentially unfair markings that may be having a negative impact on their credit standings. Fortunately, working with a credit repair company can often help to clear up these problems and get borrowers back on the right track.