Consumers were able to reduce the number of late payments they dealt with in 2011, but at the same time, were not able to reduce debt as they had in previous years.
The number of credit card balances that fell 90 days or more behind on payments slipped to just 0.78 percent of all accounts at the end of last year, according to new data from the credit monitoring bureau TransUnion. However, while consumers had generally been more conscientious in their debt relief efforts, that trend changed in 2011. The average credit card debt carried per borrower rose $239 over the course of the year to a total of $5,204, though that balance is still well below historic averages.
"[Last year] closed out with the lowest year-end card delinquency rate nationwide since 1995," said Ezra Becker, vice president of research and consulting in TransUnion's financial services business unit.
Credit card use ticked up considerably at the end of last year, as the improving economy continued to make consumers feel better about their personal finances, though some experts say those increases were the result of seasonal shifts in consumer shopping habits.