Consumer credit-card debt in the metro area jumped nearly 5 percent in the second quarter compared with the same period in 2013 -- more than any major U.S. market except
At the same time,
Experts said it was not surprising to see credit-card purchases surge as the economy improves, unemployment lessens, consumer confidence grows and the memory of the recession fades.
"It really shows that people have more confidence in the economy," said
Some consumers are also vowing not to fall into the debt trap that marked the financial crisis. Although many are using their plastic more often, they are also paying off balances at month's end, before interest kicks in.
"Sure, my credit-card spending has increased," said
Since the recession, people have generally become more savvy in how they manage their use of credit cards to generate transactions and tap cash-back rewards programs, said
"We've definitely seen an increase both in transactions and the number people using their cards," he said. "At the same time, balances are remaining pretty flat, so people are carrying less debt and paying less interest on it."
On a more sobering note,
Subprime mortgage debt played a big role in the collapse of the housing market six years ago as many homeowners with credit problems defaulted on the high-interest loans they were sold during the housing bubble.
In the credit-card industry, subprime customers are also charged much higher interest rates and fees than are customers with good credit.
"Lenders are showing that they are comfortable putting credit cards in consumers' hands again -- even those with battle scars from the financial crisis," the company said. "And consumers are demonstrating that they are looking to rebuild financially but in a more responsible manner than prior to the recession."
Despite the improving economy, there are still many people with credit problems who are struggling with credit-card debt and bills of all kinds, said
"Obviously, we interact with people at a much different place than
firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5256407-420-5256
SOURCE: ClearPoint Credit Counseling
Managing credit cards wisely
--Be wary of credit-card deals offering too-good-to-be-true free vacations and other prizes. Read the fine print. Check credible comparison sites such as ConsumerReports.org.
--Be disciplined. Meet the minimums required to qualify for cash back or other incentives, but don't overspend.
--Monitor your purchases daily. Know your financial limits. Pay balances off at the end of the month to avoid interest and late fees.
--If you have a low credit score, plan to rebuild your credit. Start by saving money to establish a secured credit card. Pay it off on time each month.
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