American consumers were willing to use their credit cards more often during the third quarter, according to credit reporting agency TransUnion.
Credit card debt held by consumers increased 4.9% on average last quarter, compared to the same time in 2011. The average borrower now has $4,996 in credit card debt, the Associated Press noted.
While people borrowed more, they also were less likely to repay that debt on time. Credit card payments at least 90 days past due increased from 0.71% last year, to 0.75%. In the second quarter of 2011, the late payment rate was 0.6%.
Credit card borrowing declined during the financial crisis and recession. Despite the small increase in late payments, a TransUnion representative said that Americans continued to steer a conservative course on using their credit cards and paying down balances. Late payment rates remain near historic lows.
Possibly contributing to the rise in credit card balances is rising consumer confidence in the economy.
As credit card use grows, credit card issuers are prospering. MasterCard (NYSE:MA) and Visa (NYSE:V) posted third quarter earnings that beat Wall Street forecasts. American Express (NYSE:AXP) fell short of Wall Street expectations, but still saw transaction and spending growth. The share price of Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS) and Capital One Financial (NYSE:COF) have risen impressively this year.