Despite still trying economic times credit card customers made more credit card payments than purchases between the first quarter of 2009 and 2010 according to a new study by credit reporting agency TransUnion.

According to the study, consumers made a total of $72 billion in credit card payments between that period, while about $2.1 billion more in purchases than in credit card payments were made just five years ago.

The survey also showed that consumers are either current on their payments or less than 60 days delinquent saw declining balances. The study also pointed to research from a Zogby International survey showing more than half of consumers chose to spend using their debit card over their credit cards. The Zogby survey also showed that just under half of consumers chose to use credit cards over their debit cards more than three out of four times.

“Many people in the financial services industry believe charge-offs have been the leading factor in declining credit card debt since the start of the recession,” said Ezra Becker said TransUnion’s vice president of research and consulting services in a statement. “In fact, some have stated that charge-offs account for the entire change in card balances over the past two to three years. In reality, the dynamic is more complex. Our analysis shows that consumers have made a concerted effort to pay down their credit cards during these uncertain economic times.”

TransUnion’s survey complemented results from an earlier Equifax survey suggesting that repayment behavior amongst American consumers had significantly improved over time and that consumers had become smarter and more responsible with consumer debt. The survey also showed that credit card issuers had approved 1.8 million more credit cards while consumer finance credit limits increased slightly to 1.5%.

Read: Equifax: Consumers Are Opening More Credit Cards

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  • gstanski

    According to a study, in 2009 “$81.6 billion of the $93 billion decrease is the direct result of Americans defaulting on their debt. The real decrease in credit card debt is only $11.6 billion…” TransUnion, somewhat contradictory, tells us that consumer credit card repayments did play a major role in the debt deleveraging process.  I don’t think there is any doubt that both factors played a role in the huge decline in credit card debt in the post-Lehman world.

    However, Americans are now paying down 21.40% of their card balances at the ean of each monthly cycle, about a quarter above the historical average of 16.20%, which tells me that repayment has been the major driver behind falling debt levels.

  • Thanks for pointing out the study. I think you make a completely valid point regarding credit card charge-offs. The reduction in credit card debt definitely has to do with both factors, but it would obviously be better for consumers (and their credit ratings) if the reduction in overall credit card debt were a result of increased payments and not charge-offs.