Discover reports profits as consumers pay down credit card debt

Discover Financial Services saw profits climb to $465 million in the first quarter of 2011 as consumers increased credit card spending and were more conscientious about paying their bills. As a result of charge offs falling by nearly a full percentage point to 5.96 percent, the company saw loan loss provisions dip $969 million from the same quarter last year.

“Our results this quarter represented record earnings for any first quarter in Discover’s history, driven by ongoing improvements in credit performance and accelerating growth in Discover card sales as well as third party payments volumes,” said David Nelms, chairman and chief executive officer of Discover.

Discover customers also spent a record $43.2 billion on their cards in the first quarter of the year, the report said. This was a 21 percent increase over the first three months of 2010.

Consumers may be more willing to take on credit card debt these days as the economy continues to improve and they get a better handle on their personal finances.