Millions of Americans have once again turned to using their credit cards after largely eschewing the practice during and in the immediate wake of the recession, and in doing so have become generally happier with their accounts.
The vast majority of credit card borrowers nationwide now feel that their credit card lenders are treating them fairly, continuing a trend first observed last year, according to a new national survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Now, on 12 percent of consumers say they have been treated unfairly by their credit card lender, down from 15 percent in 2010 and 22 percent in 2009.
That may have something to do with broadening credit standards, which have allowed more consumers to gain access to accounts they may not have been able to open in the past, the report said. As the effects of the recession continued to ebb, lenders were more willing to extend credit to borrowers who had been previously locked out of the borrowing system. In 2011, just 14 percent of consumers were denied a credit card they wanted, down from 24 percent last year.
“Things are looking rosier for credit card holders,” said Noreen Perrotta, finance editor for Consumer Reports. “Consumers are paying down balances and facing fewer punitive actions by credit card companies such as higher rates, late payment fees, and canceled cards. But average interest rates on new cards are still up and you have to read the fine print of rewards programs.”
However, a number of consumers also may run into more trouble with their credit card debts as a result of new additions to their accounts, the report said. In all, 35 percent of those polled say that they had at least one change to their account that they were unhappy with, such as a new annual fee, boosted interest rate, reduced borrowing limit or restrictions on how they could earn or redeem the awards points they’d accrued.
Consumers who are facing more debt than they think they can handle may benefit from speaking to a credit counseling agency about how they can go about finding ways to reduce debt. There is a wide array of options that may be available to them that a certified and responsible credit counselor will walk them through.