The latest report from the Federal Reserve shows that consumers used their credit cards quite extensively to fund their holiday shopping.
Revolving credit, which is made up primarily of credit card debt, increased at an annual rate of 4.1 percent in December. It rose nearly $3 billion to $801.0 billion.
This follows a jump of $5.5 billion in November which was an annual rate increase of 8.4 percent.
December was the fourth straight month of increases in revolving credit.
Analysts are a bit torn on what this means. This could be a positive sign that consumers are more confident in the economy. On the other hand, it could mean that people are struggling and have to rely on using their credit card to make ends meet.
But this much is clear: consumers are going into 2012 with higher credit card debt, but the same wages. If consumers have a hard time paying down this debt, then we might see delinquencies and defaults start to increase by spring.