Open-Ended Credit Rebounds in Third Quarter


The Federal Reserve’s latest G.19 Consumer Credit Report shows trends in consumer credit, excluding loans secured by real estate, through September 2020.

In the third quarter of 2020, consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2-1/4 percent, while nonrevolving credit increased by 4 percent and revolving credit decreased by 2-1/2 percent. In September, consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4-3/4 percent from the previous month, with revolving debt1 and nonrevolving debt2 individually increasing at rates of 4-3/4 percent, as well. Consumer credit totaled $4.2 trillion on a seasonally adjusted basis, with $989 billion in revolving debt and $3.2 trillion in nonrevolving debt. This is an increase of $16 billion from the previous month, with non-revolving credit increasing by $12 billion and revolving credit increasing by $4 billion.

The uptick in open-ended credit in September reflects measured optimism on the part of consumers to take on additional debt to pay back in the short-term. While it is still a far cry from pre-pandemic levels, its end-of-quarter rate is a drastic improvement from the second quarter (-2.6% vs -30.8%), consistent with GDP making a comeback in the same period.

The non-seasonally adjusted data of student loans, a component of non-revolving debt which are updated in the Consumer Credit report at the end of each quarter, show a moderate decrease compared to the third quarter of years prior. The third quarter usually sees an increase in student loans, but this year it was muted, increasing by $22 billion, while in the third quarters of the previous two years it increased by $33 billion and $26 billion. Currently, student loan debt stands at $1.7 trillion, still the largest component of all non-real estate-related closed-ended credit.


  1. Revolving credit plans are largely composed of credit card debt but also include home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). These may be unsecured or secured by collateral and allow a consumer to borrow up to a prearranged limit and repay the debt in one or more installments. The G.19 Consumer Credit report excludes HELOCS and home equity loans, as they are secured by real estate.
  2. Nonrevolving credit is closed-end credit extended to consumers that is repaid on a prearranged repayment schedule and may be secured or unsecured.

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