Home / Credit News / Credit card debt down in Q4 of 2012 ... Kind of

According to one of the Big Three credit reporting agencies - TransUnion - credit card debt in the US fell 1.6% in Q4 of 2012 compared to the same quarter in 2011.

That's the good news. 

The bad news is that credit card delinquencies were up to 0.85 percent - a .07 percent jump from the same quarter in 2011 and a tenth of a percentage point higher than 2012's Q3 from July-September.

The average credit card balance in Q4 was also up from the quarter before it, from $4,996 to $5,122 (2.5 percent). Overall, credit card debt was down from the same time last year, but up from the summer of 2012.

Q4 is historically one of the most debt-heavy times of the year for one obvious reason: holiday shopping. And yet, despite the fact that the final holiday shopping tally was actually one of the weakest in years, shoppers still walked away with more credit card debt than they began the season with. 

While there's nothing overly-concerning about this particular report, the trend in credit card debt - for young and old consumers alike - is hard to ignore. A report released last month by the Ohio State University reported that  consumers born in the early 1980's carried credit debt of up to $5,000 higher than the generation before them. 

Meanwhile, the AARP reported that households run by Americans 50 and older carried $8,278 in credit card debt in 2012, compared to $6,258 for households under 50. 

While there are a lot of numbers being thrown out here by various organizations (and we've mentioned before that we're still not sure who carries more debt), the general trend isn't great. Americans are piling up credit card debt, and they're having a harder and harder time paying it back. And while the numbers reported by TransUnion in Q4 aren't all bad, when put into context they show a credit debt course that's going the wrong way in 2013: UP.