ONALASKA, Wis. (5/27/10)--The national shift in the way consumers use credit cards--with consumers carrying lower balances on average--is reflected on the local level, a Wisconsin-based credit union told a local television station. Altra FCU, based in Onalaska, Wis., was featured on WKBT.com (May 25) discussing the drop in the average balance. The credit union has seen a "definite change" in members' use of credit cards, said Jack Peplinski, chief operating officer at the $731.3 million asset credit union. In the past 12 months, the average credit card balance among Altra's members dropped by roughly 8.5%. Analysts attribute the shift to the recession. Consumers are lowering their credit card debt to save for emergenices and to avoid getting in over their heads in an uncertain economy. The lower balances mean less revenues for credit card companies. Peplinski told the station that the shift is forcing credit card companies to be more creative in finding new sources of revenue. The segment advised consumers they can improve their financial situation four ways: spend less, save more, pay down existing debt and think through the options.