New credit card accounts rose 14 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, with total accounts reaching their highest level since 2008, according to the latest edition of ABA’s Credit Card Market Monitor released today. The growth was principally driven by prime and super-prime accounts, the report found, although it noted that subprime accounts reached their highest point in three years.
“Banks continue to create opportunities across all categories with a prudent approach that opens the door for millennials with no credit history as well as those who have had difficulty managing credit in the past,” said ABA Chief Economist James Chessen. “By offering lower initial credit lines that can increase over time with a good payment record, card issuers have responsibly expanded access to credit cards in a manner that benefits both consumers and the broader economy.”
Chessen also noted that consumers are continuing to keep their debt at manageable levels, with credit card debt outstanding ticking up 0.1 percent to 5.3 percent — near its historic lows. Nearly four in 10 credit card holders with card activity in the first quarter paid off their balances in full each month. While the number of accounts rose, the weak economic first quarter saw purchase volumes decline by about 8 percent. The average credit line for all accounts slipped slightly across all three risk categories.