Credit Card Market Expansion Continues in Third Quarter

New credit card accounts totaled 91.6 million in the third quarter of 2017, according to the latest edition of the American Bankers Association’s Credit Card Market Monitor released today. Monthly purchase volumes edged up across risk tiers (subprime, prime and super-prime). Year-on-year, purchase volumes rose 3.3 percent for prime accounts and 4.3 percent for super-prime accounts, but fell 3.9 percent for subprime accounts — the third consecutive quarter of year-over-year decline.

Credit access continued to expand in the third quarter, with the total number of new accounts rising 4.9 percent year-on-year, the slowest growth rate recorded since the second quarter of 2011. New account openings for prime and subprime accounts slowed to their weakest annual rates in nearly four years.

“As the economy continues to grow, consumers are enjoying historically low debt-to-income ratios and near-record confidence,” said ABA SVP Jess Sharp. “Unemployment is down, wages are creeping up, and the passage of tax reform will put more money in people’s pockets. These trends are good for the economy, and will likely translate into increased consumer spending.”

Outstanding credit as a share of disposable income increased 14 basis points to 5.61 percent, remaining in line with post-recession lows. The share of account holders carrying a monthly balance ticked up 0.7 percentage points to 43.7 percent of all accounts, also remaining well below recession-era levels. The share of account holders paying off their balances each month fell 0.3 percentage points to 29.1 percent of all accounts, while 27.2 percent of accounts were dormant.