Another reason for the increase in credit usage could be that consumers feel more comfortable using credit again, due to new regulations that govern credit card companies. Now, credit card companies must wait 60 days before hiking interest rates on existing accounts and low teaser rates must be kept in place for one year. Credit card companies are also not allowed to market on college campuses, which could keep students from racking up big credit card bills while in school.
"There's definitely a group of consumers that has recognized that credit card debt is not as dangerous as it used to be," Papadimitriou says. "That's definitely going to help in the longer term when it comes to consumer spending."