Reaping Your Rewards

Report: Credit card late payments hit record high


Fitch Ratings reports that the recession is taking its toll on credit cardholders, as a record number of them pay their bills late.

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Credit card late payments hit a record high in January, according to a report released Feb. 4, as the recession continues to take its toll on consumers.

The Fitch Ratings report paints a bleak picture of credit card delinquencies. It projects that charge-offs will breach the 8 percent mark in coming months and approach 9 percent during the second half of 2009. Charge-offs occur when credit card lenders give up on collecting a debt and charge it off their accounts.

“U.S.consumers continue to struggle in the face of mounting pressures on multiple fronts, from employment to housing to net worth,” said Fitch Managing Director Michael Dean. Fitch watches credit card delinquency and charge-off rates for the purpose of rating the asset-backed securities that credit card issuers assemble and sell.

Late-pay and charge-off rates were not evenly spread out. The charge-off rate for prime general purpose cards, for example, rose about a half point to 7.50 percent. But retail card charge-offs hit 10.51 percent, 44 percent higher than a year ago.

See related: How credit card securities work

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