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Americans are applying for
credit cards at a rate not seen since before the pandemic.
Close to 27% of U.S. consumers said in October that they had applied for a credit card in the past 12 months, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That is the highest level since 2019 and well above the record low of 16% recorded a year ago.
The New York Fed data doesn’t account for the new Omicron coronavirus variant, which could set back people’s travel plans and further snarl supply chains. But the rebound in credit-card appetite through the beginning of autumn suggests consumers could
continue to drive the U.S. economic recovery. ‘BUY NOW, PAY LATER; BECOMES POPULAR IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON A stack of multicolored credit cards on black background. Recently, Americans have been applying for credit cards at higher rates. (iStock / iStock)
"Many things are slowly returning to more normal times," said Wilbert van der Klaauw, senior vice president at the New York Fed. "With that, you expect the demand for credit to come back to pre-pandemic levels and continue on the same growth path."
Demand for credit cards and other loans fell during the early months of the pandemic. Americans uncertain about their finances
worried about taking on new debt. Restrictions on dining and travel meant that people didn’t have many places to spend money anyway. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS
Things started to change earlier this year after Covid-19 vaccines boosted the U.S. economy. More Americans, after a year of hunkering down, started
signing up for new credit cards.
The rise in applications doesn’t guarantee bigger profits for lenders. While people are requesting more cards and spending more when they get them, they are also paying off balances more quickly than they did before the pandemic.
A fan of plastic credit cards in a woman’s hand. (iStock / iStock)
Banks charge interest on balances that are carried month to month. Credit-card balances remain $123 billion lower than they were at the end of 2019, according to the New York Fed.
Lenders are working to get more people to sign up for cards, hoping more sign-ups will translate into more card spending and more people carrying balances.
CLICK HERE TO GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO A woman checking her online wallet while holding a debit and a cellphone. (istock / iStock)
Banks have been
sending out more card offers and enticing would-be cardholders with generous rewards. They are also easing borrowing requirements. Some banks reported lowering credit-score requirements on credit cards in the third quarter, according to the Federal Reserve.
Americans also want to borrow more on their existing cards. More than 11% of U.S. consumers said in October that they had applied for credit-limit increases in the past 12 months, up from about 7% a year ago.
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