Are our credit card habits really better?

Marketplace Staff Mar 12, 2010
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Are our credit card habits really better?

Marketplace Staff Mar 12, 2010
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TEXT OF STORY

TESS VIGELAND: Perhaps because we’re all looking for a silver lining to the financial crisis, there’s been a lot of talk over the last few months about how we’re developing better money habits. In fact, much hay was made over a recent report by the Federal Reserve. It said that Americans cut more than $90 billion from their credit card debt from 2008 to 2009. Well, Odysseas Papadimitriou had more than a few questions about that. He’s the CEO of CardHub.com, a credit card comparison Web site.

Odysseas Papadimitriou: Number one was obviously the record unemployment rates and where did people with no incomes find the money. And number two was the record bank losses. People paying more and banks recording record credit card losses are just not two things that go hand-in-hand. And the third thing was all the credit card interest rates increases have made it much harder for consumers to pay down their debt.

So he did a little detective work. And…

Papadimitriou: 90 percent of the reduction was a result of consumers not paying down their debt, but actually defaulting on their debt.

And Papadimitriou says things may get worse.

Papadimitriou: It is alarming that in the last three quarters of 2009, even the small reduction that happened has reversed and consumers are actually spending more and not really paying down their debts.

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