Consumers using fewer cards, paying off more credit card debt

In the last three years, consumers have found they can reduce their credit card debt by opening fewer new accounts, and have effectively aimed to do so.

According to a new report from credit reporting giant Experian, the number of credit card accounts that have been opened nationwide in the last 36 months has decreased by 26 percent. In addition, some consumers have also gotten rid of some cards, meaning they have fewer in their wallet, and are using their lines of credit differently.

“This implies that many American consumers are relying less on cards and potentially trying to pay down debt,” said Michele Raneri, Experian’s senior director of analytics.

The study also found that New Yorkers carry more credit cards than anyone else, with an average of 3.77 per person. Phoenix residents, on the other hand, carry the fewest cards of anyone in the 20 largest U.S. cities, at just 2.78.

Many consumers may have found it easier to pay off their credit card debt so that they could close out accounts as a result of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act. This law made it easier for consumers to get a handle on out-of-control credit.