Skip to content

Banks’ Bet on Subprime Consumers Sends Credit-Card Balances to a Record

  • Cards issued to customers with credit blemishes are surging
  • Americans turn to Helocs to pay down pricier forms of debt

US credit-card balances surged to a record in the third quarter as banks bet that consumers with less-than-stellar credit will be able to handle more debt. 

Balances soared 19% to $866 billion, with average credit lines also climbing to an all-time high, according to data from credit-reporting company TransUnion. The jump came after card originations to subprime consumers climbed more than 12% in the previous three-month period.