During strong economic times, Americans are able to rely on cash to make purchases. But in tougher economic times, like now for most Americans, families turn to credit cards for more purchases to get by. This increased credit card use can lead to a substantial increase in credit card debt.

A recent study by TransUnion, a credit reporting agency, showed that credit card debt per borrower increased among borrowers in the US. In the July to September period, borrowing increased 4.9 percent from last year during that time period.

During this same period, Americans have become less diligent in making payments on that debt on time. The percentage of Americans who had payments that were at least 90 days overdue hit .75 percent which is up from .71 percent at the same time last year.

Many Americans try to rein in spending during economic downturns. They will also focus on paying down debts. But many Americans are carrying higher credit card balances now.

When facing mounting credit card debt without any hope of paying everything back, bankruptcy may be the solution. There are two types of consumer bankruptcy available. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows for the discharge of debt. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows the individual to reorganize their debt.

Under Chapter 7, most debt can be discharged. This includes credit card debt, medical bills and mortgage debt as long as the individual does not want to keep the house. Student loans and child support debt cannot be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Debt is not immediately discharged under Chapter 7 --creditors have an opportunity to make a case for repayment of their debt to the bankruptcy court. However, with the right help, most consumer debt will be wiped away.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Average US credit card debt per borrower up in 3Q," Alex Veiga, Nov. 18, 2012