Aug. 30--South Floridians are pulling out their credit cards more than most people in the country, reports Equifax, the national credit reporting agency.
The metro area encompassing Broward and Miami-Dade counties had the third-highest jump in credit card balances in the three months from April to June compared with the same period last year, Equifax announced last week after analyzing credit card use in the nation's 25 largest metro areas.
Credit card debt grew 4.76 percent in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Only the Houston and Orlando metro areas had higher jumps -- 5.45 percent and 4.89 percent, respectively.
Palm Beach County wasn't included in the South Florida data for the credit card analysis. But Equifax economist Dennis Carlson said he thinks Palm Beach County probably had a similar increase.
"I like the general trend," he said. It shows more banks are willing to extend credit in South Florida, which was among the hardest hit by the recession, Carlson said.
In fact, Equifax data show lenders issued 21 percent more new credit cards or retail store credit in Broward-Miami-Dade in the first half of the year than they did for the same time last year, he said. That was nearly double the 11 percent national average increase, Carlson said.
Still, the news may not be all good, a South Florida economist warned.
"Credit card debt has increased more than in other parts of the country because South Florida is home to both stagnant wages and keeping up with the Joneses," said Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com of North Palm Beach.
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