Why More Americans Will Fall Behind on Their Credit Card Bills This Year

Our collective exercise in austerity appears to be over.

Americans are adding to their credit card balances again, and experts warn more of us are likely to get in over our heads this year.

A quarterly report issued last month by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said that, although our total debt dropped by $74 billion in the third quarter, our credit card debt actually rose by $2 billion in the same time period.

The average borrower had $4,996 in debt as of the third quarter of 2012, according to credit bureau TransUnion. That amount is expected to rise to $5,446 by the end of this year, the highest it’s been since 2009, when our average debt topped out at $5,776.

Story by Martha White for Time.

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