Consumers Pay Off Credit-Card Balances Even While Spending More

(Bloomberg) -- Consumers like their credit cards, but they’re less willing to get socked by monthly interest charges.

While spending on cards increased in the second quarter at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. -- the two biggest U.S. companies in that business -- revenue declined. That’s a clear indication their customers are trying to keep monthly balances under control.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 4 percent in June, close to the 18-year low reached in May, and job gains of 213,000 topped projections. Americans’ confidence in the economy approached a 17-year high in late June, based on the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index.

“We’ve actually seen a very benign overall credit environment in our consumer businesses in every region around the world,” Citigroup’s Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach said Friday on a conference call with reporters.

JPMorgan said spending on credit cards jumped 11 percent compared with the first three months of the year, while revenue from the bank’s card-services business dropped 20 percent. At Citigroup, card spending increased 11 percent and revenue declined 3 percent.

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