ABA Report: Credit Card Access Continues to Expand in Q3

New credit card accounts rose 16.5 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2015 to total 78.9 million, according to the latest edition of ABA’s Credit Card Market Monitor released today. The total number of credit card accounts also increased to 320 million, up 5 percent from a year prior. The increase was driven by moderate gains across all three risk groups—subprime, prime and super-prime.

“With nearly six million jobs created over the last two years, it’s natural to see strong growth in new cards and purchase volumes,” said ABA SVP Jess Sharp. “Faster wage growth and healthy levels of disposable income have helped shore up many account holders who may have had difficulty managing their credit in the past. Consumers are now in a better position to pay on time and rebuild their credit.”

The report also suggests that card issuers are effectively managing risk while expanding credit access. Average credit lines saw growth overall, though subprime credit grew at a slower pace—1.1 percent—than prime and super-prime credit lines.

Sharp added that on the whole, credit card users are spending within their means and managing credit effectively; outstanding credit card debt ticked up slightly to 5.38 percent, while the effective finance charge yield remained flat. The share of account holders carrying over a monthly balance increased just 0.7 points to 41.7 percent of all accountholders. All three metrics remain near post-recession lows.