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The number of credit cards in U.S. has hit an all-time high. Here’s why

The number of open credit card accounts surged in 2021

A television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
A television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shows the rate decision of the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. There are more than 520 million cards active in the United States right now, which is an all-time high, according to a New York Fed’s household debt and credit report.
Richard Drew, Associated Press

There are more than 520 million cards active in the United States right now, which is an all-time high, according to a New York Fed household debt and credit report.

The U.S. saw a dip in opened credit cards from 2008 to 2010, a likely result of the Great Recession. But the U.S. has since made up that decline.

  • “Issuance to borrowers of all scores returned to, or even surpassed, pre-pandemic levels,” researchers wrote on the Liberty Street Economics site.
  • “These issuances have real consequences for borrowers and borrowing. Borrowers with newly opened credit card accounts have typically seen an average balance increase of $645 in that month.”

Per MarketWatch, Americans are seeing their credit card debt rise again as prices continue to rise across the country. In fact, household debt jumped by $286 billion in the third quarter of 2021, putting the total household debt for people across the country at $15.24 trillion.

The news comes as inflation reached its highest point in 30 years, according to new data from the Consumer Price Index. The surge in consumer prices was so high it surprised experts.

  • “We expected inflation would get worse before it got better, but not this much worse. Particularly painful is the increase in food prices as we approach the holidays, and the rise in energy prices as we plan to travel more to family get-togethers,” Robert Frick, the corporate economist with Navy Federal Credit Union, wrote, according to Axios.