Personal Finance

Experts Worry About the Impact of Holiday Spending

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Consumers may have tried to cut out credit card debt in the few years since the end of the recession, but in the last several months, old borrowing habits are creeping back into many people’s lives, and that could be a problem this holiday season.

Numerous studies recently have shown that consumers are once again adopting borrowing habits that can lead them into serious financial and credit trouble, and experts say that can pose a serious issue for many, according to a report from MarketWatch. Among these troubling statistics is that about 30 percent of all new credit cards now being extended to consumers are going to those who have subprime credit ratings.

This change has come for two reasons, the report said. First, the improving economy has emboldened lenders to once again begin broadening credit qualifications because they feel that consumers who might have taken hits to their credit in the past – often through no fault of their own – are now in a better position to afford such an account. In addition, interest from other borrowers, with better credit ratings, may be waning.

“The higher-end FICO groups appear saturated or tapped out, leaving the appeal of direct mail to these groups less enticing,” Roy Persson, the director of competitive tracking services for Ipsos, told the news agency.

Further, experts at TransUnion project that over the course of next year, the total amount of outstanding credit card debt held by Americans could rise back to the levels seen in 2009, when they reached their all-time highs, the report said. Certainly, that jibes with a FICO survey that found that 25 percent of consumers believe the debt they’ll rack up while shopping this holiday season will take more than three months to pay off fully. That number is up from just 18 percent last year, indicating that consumers are now far more willing to spend on these accounts.

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Of course, consumers with lower credit ratings who carry a balance from one month to the next are also more likely to have to pay interest charges far higher than they might have been used to before they hit a rocky patch, and as such, that can result in more debt, and a greater threat of delinquency and default.

Image: Hello Turkey Toe, via Flickr

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