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The amount of money owed on consumer credit cards issued by the nation’s six largest lenders will likely rise during the coming year, reversing a trend of more conservative debt accumulation seen in the last several years, according to a report from MarketWatch.

Moody’s Investors Service recently projected that credit card balances for American Express, Bank of America, Capital One Financial, Citigroup, Discover Financial and JPMorgan Chase will rise some 6 percent during the coming year. That will bring balances to a total of about $517 billion for those institutions alone, up from the total seen at the end of last year of $488 billion. Balances slipped more than 5 percent during 2011.

In fact, the last time balances rose at all was in 2008, soon after the start of the recession when consumers may not have been feeling its full financial impact, the report said. All credit card lenders across the country, not just the top six, saw the amount of debt carried by their customers rise to $672 billion.

But these days, consumers are once again reaching for their credit cards when it comes to making purchases, prompting optimism for growth in card lending for the first time in four years, the report said.

“Consumers are feeling somewhat more confident [in] their ability to take on debt,” Curt Beaudouin, vice president and senior analyst with Moody’s Investors Service, told the news site.

It’s likely that there were several reasons for the continual drops in credit card debt seen between 2009 and last year, the report said. For one thing, the number of credit card accounts that lenders had to write off as being uncollectable throughout most of 2009 and 2010 spiked significantly as consumers fell too far behind on their outstanding balances. In addition, many consumers also made more conscientious efforts to reduce the amounts they owed while simultaneously reining in their credit card spending in general as a result of financial difficulties they were facing during the recession.

But more recently, credit card use has been on the rise. During the last few months of 2011, balances ticked upwards, though some experts say that could be the result of seasonal spending increases for holiday shopping, rather than a wholesale return to pre-recession credit card use.

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