An increase in credit card purchases hasn’t led to a growth in account balances but Moody’s Investors Service in a report that could soon change.

Moody’s calculated the receivables balances on credit card accounts issued by the Big Six contracted 0.3% year over year in fourth-quarter 2013 despite a 6% increase in purchase volumes over the same period. These numbers support the ongoing trend of today's mostly higher credit quality cardholders using their cards more but paying down the debt quickly.

However a steady growth in purchases suggests that “big six bankcard balances will likely start growing again in the aggregate as the economy continues to recover,” according to the report. That is because bigger card balances would make the current record-high payment rates more difficult for cardholders to maintain.

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