Consumers continued to use credit cards more often last year

Consumers continued to use credit cards more often last year Americans may now be feeling better about dealing with credit card debt and using their accounts responsibly now that the economy has made continual improvements over the last year, and that prompted many to increase spending and obtain new cards.

The amount of credit, debit and prepaid cards carrying the brands of the world's six largest payment processors surged 12.4 percent to a total of more than 6.54 billion last year, as consumers continue to feel better about their financial standing, according to the latest Global Credit Card Brands study from the Nilson Report. In addition, the number of transactions processed on these cards rose to 135.33 billion in 2011, up 14.56 billion and 12.1 percent from the year before.

However, at the same time, credit cards issued to U.S. consumers bearing the Visa, MasterCard or American Express brands generated 36.78 percent of all transactions worldwide, the report said. That's down from 37.65 percent in 2010.

Many Americans are trying to find debt relief and being more cautious about adding to their balances, keeping the value of their purchases over the course of the month low enough that they could pay their bills off in full.