Consumers learned a valuable financial lesson in the Great Recession: Many people reeled in their debt, became wary of high-interest loans and returned to spending only the cash they had on hand — until recently.
Now, the number of credit-card accounts in the U.S. is rising quickly. And based on current growth rates, the total number will soon be back to prerecession levels.
It peaked at just over 496 million in the second quarter of 2008, and fell sharply during the global financial crisis by 24 percent to about 379 million in the third quarter of 2010, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The number of cards in circulation has been rising steadily since, and now stands at more than 435 million.
If the trend continues, the number of cards is expected to hit the previous peak by the second quarter of 2018, according to Michelle Hutchison, a money expert at the personal finance site Finder.com.
"When people get comfortable and complacent with the cost of borrowing money they overspend," she said.