COSTA MESA, Calif. (8/11/10)--Consumers are opening 26% fewer cards than they did three years ago, according to a new study by Experian, a global information services company. “As expected with the current financial environment, we can see that the average person has fewer cards... and is using credit differently than in the past,” said Michele Raneri, senior director of analytics, Experian. “This implies that many American consumers are relying less on cards and potentially trying to pay down debt.” According to the Credit Union National Association’s U.S. Credit Union Profile for first quarter 2010, the credit card growth rate at credit unions for the first quarter of 2010 was 7.4%, compared with 6.4% in 2009 and 7.6% in 2008. The growth rate in 2007 was 13.5%. The Experian study also revealed that out of the top metropolitan areas Experian studied, the number of open-ended bank cards was typically greater than retail cards, except for Pittsburgh; Miami; Columbus, Ohio; and Atlanta. New Yorkers have the most open cards, while Phoenix residents have the fewest. The highest average monthly balance is $6,753 on revolving accounts in Atlanta. San Francisco and Houston have the lowest average monthly balances, with $5,323 and $5,328 respectively. Experian also shared some tips for using credit wisely:
* When you are extended a line of credit, use it, carefully and make payments on time; * Set up a budget and stick to it; * Shop around for credit. Lower interest rates, lower or no annual fees, cheaper service charges and additional benefits such as frequent flier miles or special insurance rates are available; and * Once you sign a credit agreement, you are responsible for it unless the creditor agrees to release you from the agreement.