The U.S. credit card industry continues its slow rebound from the financial crisis. In the second quarter, the number of open accounts rose by 24 million from a year earlier, while purchase volumes also increased significantly, according to a new report issued Wednesday by the American Bankers Association.
"A strengthening economy and improving consumer confidence may be translating to greater use of credit cards," the report stated.
The ABA's report, which lags behind some other sources of data about the credit card industry, is consistent with prior findings about second-quarter trends. The Federal Reserve Board previously reported that revolving credit rose by 6.3% between April and June.
The ABA found that monthly purchase volume by credit card users with the highest credit scores rose by 8.2% from the first quarter. For customers in the middle band of credit scores, between 680 and 759, purchase volume rose by 10.3%. And for those customers with the lowest scores, purchase volume rose by 14.3%.
During the second quarter, there were 304 million credit card accounts open, which was up from 280 million a year earlier, the report found.
The increasing use of credit cards is not leading to a substantially higher debt burden, at least right now, according to the ABA. As a percentage of disposable income, credit card debt outstanding remained at a 15-year low in the second quarter, according to the report.
The ABA also said that the percentage of credit card holders who regularly pay less than their full balance fell to 41% in the second quarter, an all-time low.
"More and more consumers are using their credit card as a payment tool rather than a form of debt," Molly Wilkinson, executive director of the ABA's Card Policy Council, said in a news release.