Credit card borrowing, however, has fallen for the 16th month in a row
Borrowing by US consumers rose for the first time in a year in January, according to the Federal Reserve.
The central bank said consumer credit rose 2.4% or $5bn (£3.3bn) from December 2009 to a total of $2.45 trillion in the first month of 2010.
It was the first gain after a record 11 straight declines and it was the largest increase since July 2008.
Analysts were expecting a $4.5bn decrease in January following a $4.6bn fall in December.
January's figure was boosted by a $6.62bn, or 5%, increase in credit for car loans.
However, credit card borrowing, which has now fallen for the 16th month in a row, declined by $1.7bn, or 2.3%.