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Credit card activity climbs in March

Jeremy Simon

Credit cardholders are apparently charge-happy once more: After a slowdown in February, credit card activity ramped up in March.

According to the latest Federal Reserve release on consumer credit, revolving credit (of which about 98 percent is comprised of credit card debt) surged at an annual rate of nearly 8 percent in March. That marked a significant increase from February’s gain of 5 percent. With the latest increase, revolving credit climbed to $957.2 billion from $950.9 billion the month before.

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Overall consumer credit (revolving and nonrevolving) leapt 7.2 percent in March to $2.55 trillion.

Unfortunately, the increase in credit card usage may not be by choice, with consumers forced to put higher-priced necessities on plastic: March consumer spending data showed that expenditures rose on more costly food and energy prices, even as growth in household income slowed.

Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve survey of senior loan officers indicated that although banks tightened their standards for credit cards in the first quarter of 2007, demand for consumer loans actually increased.

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