Blog

Amount of retail-issued credit cards hits four year high

November 29, 2013

The number of retailers who offer branded electronic transfer cards alongside their credit card payment processing terminals is likely increasing, as there are more such cards currently in use than at any other point since 2009.

The number of retailers who offer branded electronic transfer cards alongside their credit card payment processing terminals is likely increasing, as there are more such cards currently in use than at any other point since 2009.

The latest Equifax National Consumer Credit Trends Report found that the total number of open retail-issued credit cards is currently more than 183 million, representing the highest such figured recorded since September 2009. The total balances on those cards has surpassed $56 billion, representing a year-over-year increase of more than six percent. 

More than $46 billion was created in new credit between January and August of 2013, according to Equifax. That represents an increase of more than 11 percent from the same period in 2012, suggesting that renewed economic confidence has consumers open to the idea of spending more. 

“The holiday season is almost upon us and retailers are eager to capture the hearts and wallets of the American consumer,” said Amy Cutts, chief economist for Equifax.”Retail cards are a great way to do both. Retailers can leverage these cards to drive traffic to their stores through special offers to cardholders and can encourage larger purchases by offering favorable interest-rate promotions for big ticket items.”

Large amount of new credit cards continue to be issued – and used
Americans are clearly making use of the credit cards and funds they have available to them: the latest retail sales report from the U.S. Census Bureau announced that total sales from August through October of 2013 were up by 3.9 percent when compared to the figures for the same time period in 2012. 

That may be thanks in part to the proliferation of these cards, and their use at many credit card and debit card payment processing terminals. Equifax reported that 24.6 million new card accounts were issued in the time since the last report, the highest number since 2008 and an increase of more than 8 percent over the figure recorded at the same time period last year.

Consumers are even paying off their bills in an efficient manner: Equifax’s study found that 60-day delinquency rates for retail cards fell slightly during the time period, from 3.52 percent to 3.48 percent.

“As long as consumers resist the urge to overspend, these cards can be a great way to save money when holiday shopping,” concluded Cutts. 

Back To Blog