More than 8 million consumers stopped using credit cards over the past year. The decline stems from a combination of consumer choices and bank actions.
An analysis by credit reporting agency TransUnion found that use of general purpose credit cards bearing MasterCard or Visa logos, or issued by Discover or American Express, fell more than 11 percent in the third quarter, compared with the July to September period last year.
About 62 million people now have an active card, compared with 70 million a year ago.
The Chicago company found that consumers in the subprime category, or those with low credit ratings, were believed to be without cards mostly because they were shut down by banks after payments fell behind or balances were written off.
“One can quite reasonably infer that’s not voluntary,” said Ezra Becker, vice president of research and consulting in TransUnion’s financial services business unit. Banks have written off record amounts of credit card balances in recent years.
But a significant portion of the decrease in card usage reflects decisions by cardholders to stop using credit, Becker said. “They’re simply either not purchasing as much or paying down balances.”
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