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Consumer credit card debt down, but CEO says consumers need to change their spending habits

Published: Monday, Dec. 10 2012 3:25 p.m. MST

A cashier rings up a sale at a Target store in Chicago on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012. For the first time in three years, consumer credit card debt has improved for three consecutive quarters.

Sitthixay Ditthavong, AP

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For the first time in three years, consumer credit card debt has improved for three consecutive quarters, according to a study released by CardHub today.

The year is expected to end with $36.4 billion more debt than the beginning of the year, but that's down from the previously projected $43.5 billion, meaning consumers are accumulating debt at a slower pace.

Despite the welcome news, Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of CardHub, warns that consumer habits need to change.

“When it comes to credit card debt, things are obviously moving in an encouraging direction, but we can’t start patting ourselves on the back quite yet," Papadimitriou said in a statement. "The last few years have shown that when we get comfortable, we begin to spend more freely, debt starts to rise again, and we find ourselves completing yet another lap in a vicious cycle. We can’t be satisfied with racking up less debt. We need to start living within our means and we need to do so soon or we’ll find ourselves on the edge of a more personal type of fiscal cliff.”

He suggests consumers avoid risky retailer financing plans, make use of unused gift cards by selling them through online gift card exchanges, leverage 0-percent credit card offers, budget, and reduce bank account holiday hangover with rewards bonuses.

EMAIL: alovell@deseretnews.com

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