Personal Finance

Americans took on $57B in credit card debt in 2014

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Credit cards have made a comeback.

U.S. consumers racked up a record $57.1 billion in net credit card debt in 2014, according to a CardHub survey released Monday. The total marks a 47 percent increase from 2013.

"It's clear that Americans are now confident in the economy and are ready to spend. Unfortunately, they're spending money they don't actually have," Jill Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for CardHub, told CNBC in an email.

This marked the fifth consecutive year that net credit card debt increased after it fell by nearly $1 million in 2009. Concerns in the wake of the financial crisis drove many individuals to cut spending, particularly in retail, and pay off debt, Gonzalez said. Those reservations have largely disappeared.

"A few years later, consumers put more faith back in the economy and therefore allocated more money toward new spending instead of paying off existing debt," she said.

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Consumers tacked on more than $45 billion of new debt in the fourth quarter alone, the survey said. CardHub projects that new debt will climb above $60 billion this year.

Credit card trends were not entirely glum, though, as defaults reached a six-year low in 2014. However, the average household held a $7,200 card balance at the end of the year.

The number is inching closer to $8,100, the credit card debt level CardHub previously deemed unsustainable.

Total revolving debt remains lower than it was before the Great Recession, but it has been climbing over the last several months. In December 2007, it topped $1 trillion. This January, it was at $867 billion, up from $839 billion a year earlier.