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Consumers paying more credit card bills on time

Credit card delinquency rates lowest in eight years

By Chris Friedrich

Not since 2002 have Americans been so good about paying their credit card bills on time.

Credit card delinquencies (late payments) are at the lowest rate in eight years, indicating a "modest improvement" in the struggling economy, according to the American Bankers Association's Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin.

Consumers paying more credit card bills on time"It's clear that consumer balance sheets are improving. People are borrowing less, saving more and building wealth. These are all positive signs," said ABA Chief Economist James Chessen, in a press release.

Credit card delinquencies fell nearly half a percent in the first quarter of 2010 to 3.88 percent from 4.39 percent from the fourth quarter of 2009, five basis points lower than the 15-year average for delinquencies from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2010.

In fact, delinquency rates generally fell across the board in closed-end (installment) and open-end (line of credit) loan accounts, according to the ABA.

  • Home equity loan delinquency dropped to 4.12 percent from 4.32.
  • Home equity lines of credit went down to 1.81 percent from 2.04.
  • Direct auto-loan delinquency settled at 1.79 percent from 1.94, while indirect auto-loan delinquency came down to 3.02 percent from 3.15.
  • Personal loan delinquency fell to 3.61 percent from 3.63.
  • Property improvement loan delinquencies sank to 1.40 percent from 1.63.

"This is the first inkling that stability is taking hold in the housing market, but the pace of recovery will still be long and drawn out," says Chessen.

Only three areas showed an increase in delinquencies in the first quarter of 2010. They were marine loans, mobile home loans and RV loans.

Borrowers who are having problems paying their debts on time shouldn't ignore the problem. The ABA recommends contacting creditors, working out a solution if possible, not taking on additional debt and contacting a nonprofit credit counselor.

See related: Rise in delinquencies signals prolonged credit card woes, Credit card charge-offs, delinquencies reverse upward trend

Published: July 7, 2010


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