Home / Credit News / Improving economy prompts consumers to seek more credit

With economic conditions mostly improving in the last several months, consumers seem more interested in once again dealing with new lines of credit.

Consumer demand for new lines of credit is on the rise, as evidenced by the three consecutive quarters of increased inquiries, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s most recent Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit. In the six months prior to the end of last year, the number of inquiries for credit accounts nationwide ticked up 2.7 percent over the total seen in the six-month period at the end of the third quarter.

Overall, the value of consumers' available credit limits rose $98 billion in the fourth quarter alone, an increase of 3.6 percent from the third quarter and once again picking up a trend that was observed in the first half of the year, the report said. During that time, the number of open credit card accounts increased to 386 million, up from 383 million.

Further, consumers were more conscientious in paying their bills for all types of credit on time, as 9.8 percent of all debt was still delinquent, the report said. And while that number is still considerably higher than historical averages, it's down from previous quarters.

"While we continue to see improvements in the delinquent balances and delinquency transition rates this quarter, there has been a noticeable decrease in the rate of improvement compared to 2009-2010," said Andrew Haughwout, vice president and economist at the New York Fed. "Overall it appears that delinquency rates are stabilizing at levels that remain significantly higher than pre-crisis levels."

The Federal Reserve has repeatedly indicated that consumer debt is on the rise once again after many Americans turned away from credit card use immediately following the recession.