Americans continue to seek new lines of credit

Americans continue to seek new lines of credit Consumers are growing more comfortable in dealing with credit card debt these days, and demand for new lines of credit of all kinds has grown substantially.

In the second half of 2011, the number of inquiries for credit accounts, which are viewed as a reasonable gauge for consumer credit demand, increased 2.7 percent, according to new data in the Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In addition, the average credit limits consumers could carry rose $98 billion nationwide, a 3.6 percent increase over available maximums at the end of the third quarter, as the number of open credit card accounts jumped 3 million to a total of 386 million.

Meanwhile, consumers continued to be more conscientious in their efforts to pay down existing debts on time, the report said. Overall, household debt delinquency fell in the fourth quarter, but still accounted for 9.8 percent of all balances outstanding.

During the recession, consumers who were anxious to find some amount of debt relief shied away from using their credit cards and were more committed to reducing their balances, increasing the value of their monthly contributions.