Consumers amassed $71B in credit card debt in 2015

Credit card purchase debt
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Could 2016 be the next 2008 for credit card debt? It's possible, according to new research by CardHub.

America's outstanding credit card debt surpassed estimates in 2015, climbing to $917.7 billion, up from a forecast of $900 billion, the credit card comparison website said on Monday.

In 2015, consumers amassed around $71 billion in credit card debt, up 24 percent from the previous year. In the fourth quarter alone, consumers racked up $52.4 billion in credit card debts, nearly the cumulative amount of debts owed to credit card companies in 2014, which reached $57.4 billion.

"With 8 of the past 10 quarters reflecting year-over-year regression in consumer performance, evidence is mounting to support the notion that credit card users are reverting to pre-downturn bad habits," Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of CardHub, wrote in the report.

In the first quarter of 2015, consumers used tax refunds and annual salary bonuses to quell growing credit card debts, repaying nearly $35 billion of these deficits. However, in the second quarter they garnered $32 billion in debt and $21.2 billion in the third quarter.

Average debts in 2015 hit levels not seen since the Great Recession, the company said, with households owing around $7,879, roughly $500 below the tipping point that CardHub identified as being unsustainable.

The good news is consumers are still staying current on their debts.

"While credit card debt levels are trending significantly upward, charge-off rates remain near historical lows and are, in fact, down on a year-over-year basis," Papadimitriou wrote. "Something clearly has to give, and it does not seem to be our spending habits."