Mortgage lending was less subdued in July than it appeared last week from numbers published by the British Bankers' Association.
The Bank of England said yesterday the value of new loans approved by lenders rose slightly to £23.97 billion from £23.62 billion in June.
The Bank's figures take in mortgages approved by building societies and foreign banks, while the BBA speaks only for big British banks. It said the number of new home loans approved was lower than at any time for five months, although the average value increased.
But the Bank confirmed credit card borrowing has become hesitant. It rose last month by only £312 million, less than any month since June 2001 and down from a recent peak of over £1 billion in January.
Credit card spending of £10.9 billion - before repayments - was the lowest monthly total since February last year.
Philip Shaw, an economist at Investec, said: "July was another month of subdued consumer borrowing, and this may reflect a similar attitude towards spending.
"There has been a slowdown in household consumption and the pace of consumer borrowing has slowed. It may be households are reacting to previous rate increases.
"They could be concerned with signs of higher unemployment."
Total unsecured lending, including personal loans and overdrafts as well as credit cards, rose by only £1.21 billion in July, little more than half January's total of £2.33 billion.
But despite signs consumers may be curbing borrowing and focusing on repayments, there are suggestions many have already taken on more debt than they can handle.
Barclaycard, which has 11 million UK customers, recently said it set aside £508 million to cover deteriorating credit quality in the first half of 2005. Other big banks also increased their provisions for bad and doubtful debts.