Tom Smart, Deseret News
Sunday Monday cover on credit and the economy-- in West Jordan, Utah, May. 14, 2008.

Outstanding credit card debt in the U.S. dropped 5.2 percent to $803 billion during the first quarter of 2012, marking the third consecutive first-quarter drop, according to a recent study from

Though first quarter figures have dropped, the total debt is slightly greater than the $794.4 billion reported for the same time last year.

The $35.8 billion paid down in the first quarter is 12 percent higher than in 2011, but it’s 8 percent lower than 2010.

This may be a sign that the U.S. is on track to have a pace similar to 2011 in which Americans incurred about $53.4 billion in new credit card debt, according to Card Hub.

“It’s clear that most of us have yet to truly internalize the reality that we cannot continue spending in this reckless manner,” Odysseas Papadimitriou, chief executive officer of Card Hub, said in a statement. “The problem is that we see signs of the nation’s economy recovering and think we can return to pre-recession spending levels. Unfortunately, pre-recession spending was inextricably tied to the housing bubble, and without another one, we cannot turn back the clock."

The amount of debt banks charged off dropped about 37 percent to 8.8 percent from 2011 figures.

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