"The Plastic Safety Net" study found that middle- and low-income households were racking up credit card balances just to cover everyday expenses. One-third of the 1,000 survey respondents said that basic living expenses contributed to their current debt level. Illness, job loss, car and home repairs, tuition, and major appliance purchases were other factors cited frequently by those struggling financially.
Today, it's standard operating procedure to reward "good customers" (those who generate regular fee income by carrying balances month to month) with unrequested credit line increases and "convenience" checks that encourage more spending. It's like throwing barbells to someone treading water.