Credit — the practice of getting the money today and paying it off tomorrow — is a central facet of American capitalism. Whether it's used to buy a home, to get out of a sketchy financial situation, or just to live on during lean times, it's something people are turning to more than ever.
According to Experian, the average American has a credit card balance of $6,375, up 3 percent since last year. Total credit card debt has reached its highest point ever, in fact, surpassing $1 trillion in 2017, according to the Federal Reserve.
Despite that, the average credit score is higher than ever as well, at 675, since the 2008 recession. It's also around that time that Americans began taking advantage of their higher credit scores by taking out more lines of credit.
That's because according to data normalized via Lending Club ($LC), an issuer of unsecured personal loans between $10,000 and $40,000, the average number of open lines of credit per customer saw a major swell following the 2008 Great Recession.
The number of open lines of credit per customer, averaged out per day, begins to paint a picture of how loanees had an increasing number of open lines of credit at the time their loans were issued.
When averaged per year, a more clear trend emerges. At the end of 2008, the average Lending Club customer had 9.27 lines of credit in their names. By the end of 2015, that number grew to 11.8.
As of mid-2017, the average household owes $16,883 in credit card debt. If trends found in personal loan data tells us anything, Americans aren't slowing down when it comes to leveraging their financial futures.