Charles Schwab

Family finances: Is credit card debt out of control?

Credit card research site CardHub recently predicted that U.S. credit card holders will carry roughly $1 trillion in outstanding balances by the end of the year. That raises questions about how consumers are faring as debt levels grow. CardHub warns that consumers may be on the path to spending beyond their means -- a return to the bad habits that predated the 2007-08 financial crisis.

But a more nuanced look at credit card data shows that Americans aren't yet using their plastic overzealously. The 90-day delinquency rate for credit card holders was recently 7.2 percent, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York -- far below the 13.7 percent rate reached in 2010. Delinquency...