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People are finding it easier to borrow right now

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A financial adviser sits at a desk with paperwork, a clipboard and calculator.

The number of states requiring personal finance in high school has increased since 2019. Some credit the pandemic. ridvan_celik via Getty Images

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In an improving economy, one indicator to watch is consumer borrowing. A report this week from the New York Federal Reserve found that people are finding it easier to obtain credit now compared with a year ago.

Lenders and credit card companies are trying to capitalize on the surge in spending this year. Andrew Davidson at Comperemedia said credit card marketing is up, and people are noticing.

“They start to see those offers in the mail, they start to see those ads online,” Davidson said. “And of course interest rates are low.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean consumers will accept all those offers. Tim Quinlan, senior economist at Wells Fargo, said many people are still sitting on a lot in savings. “And so their demand for credit is a lot lower than it otherwise would be coming out of a recession.”

Quinlan said there are some purchases that might require more borrowing, like new and used cars, which are getting more expensive because of supply chain bottlenecks and the shortage of semiconductor chips.

“And so that is creating at least some demand for consumer loans at this stage in the game,” Quinlan said.

Other recent Fed data shows that while credit card debt has been decreasing, auto loan balances are on the rise.

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