U.S. credit-card debt saw a record drop during the second quarter of 2020 — the height of the pandemic. This was largely the result of Americans paying down their balances with the help of COVID-19 financial assistance in the form of stimulus payments, suspended student loan payments, and broad state-sponsored unemployment benefits, as well as a reduction in spending due to lockdowns. However, as economic aid began to wind down in 2021 and spending increased, credit-card balances started to return to their normal seasonal patterns. Balances grew slightly in the third quarter of 2021, by $17 billion, after an increase of the same size in the second quarter, but they remained well below pre-pandemic levels.

Total U.S. credit-card debt during 2020: Q1 $893 billion, Q2 $817 billion, Q3 $807 billion, Q4 $819 billion. During 2021: Q1 $770 billion, Q2 $787 billion, Q3 $804 billion.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, November 2021
U.S. Credit-Card Debt Levels Begin to Return to Normal Seasonal Patterns