Americans are borrowing again, in some cases at levels not seen in more than a decade.
Consumer demand for auto loans and rentals, general-purpose credit cards and personal loans rose 39% in April compared to the same period last year, according to credit reporting company Equifax Inc It was also up 11% from April 2019, according to Equifax, which measured how often lenders check consumer credit reports to make lending decisions.
Lenders meet the moment. Equifax said lenders extended a record number of auto loans and rentals in March, the latest month for which data is available. They also increased credit card departures, issuing more general purpose credit cards than any March on record. Equifax data goes back to 2010.
This is quite a reversal from 2020, when many people avoided credit cards, personal loans, and other types of debt. Some did not need to borrow because stimulus checks, expanded unemployment benefits, and a booming stock market inflated their checking accounts. But many did not want to spend money when they feared being made redundant, and others, stuck at home, had nothing to buy.
But with vaccines readily available in the United States and the economy reopening, many Americans are splurging on cars, vacations, and restaurants. Higher prices, especially for cars and trucks, also fueled demand for loans.