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Research and Statistics

Credit card delinquency statistics

Summary

Our team has compiled statistics on U.S. credit card delinquencies over the years, as well as collections, bankruptcies and much more.

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The health of the credit card industry is best measured not by the number of people with cards, but rather the number who pay their bills. Bad payment habits begin by nicking you with more fees and lower credit scores, and, in advanced cases, can lead to the loss of a vehicle or home, garnishment and bankruptcy.

Credit card delinquencies have been improving for a long time. Delinquencies on bank cards fell in the third quarter of 2019, declining further below the 4.33% average that prevailed before the recession, according to the American Bankers Association’s Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin.1 Bank card delinquencies dipped two basis points to 2.96% of all accounts in the third quarter, remaining well below their 15-year average of 3.68%. The ABA report defines a delinquency as a late payment that is 30 days or more overdue.1

TransUnion’s Industry Insights Report found the credit card delinquency rate reached 1.81%  in Q3 2019, rising from 1.71% for Q3 2018. The credit bureau’s figures are based on accounts that are 90 days or more overdue. The credit card delinquency rate remains more than a full percentage point below its peak in Q4 2009 though (2.97%).2

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York measures credit card delinquencies based on the percent of balances that are at least 90 days late. For the third quarter of 2019, that rate was about 8%, about the same level as in the previous quarter.3

However, charge-offs, another indicator of credit risk, are up. A charge-off occurs when a card issuer gives up on collecting a particular debt. The charge-off rate on credit card loans from the top 100 banks was 3.70% in the third quarter of 2019, up from 3.55% the year before.4

Who’s falling behind

Some demographic groups are more likely than others to miss bill payments. Generally, the younger the consumer group, the higher their delinquency rates.5

90+ day credit card delinquency rates for various age groups
Age rangeQ1 2018Change (annual)
Gen Z (1995 or later)2.53% -2.3%
Millennials (1980 to 1994)2.51% +1.2%
Gen X (1965 t0 1979)2.24% +3.2%
Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964)1.2% +5.3%
Silent gen. (1945 or earlier)0.81% +9.5%
Source: TransUnion Industry Insights Report

Looking at the college market, 38% of college students who own a credit card said they frequently or sometimes charge purchases without having the funds to pay the bill. However, 60% say they pay their balance in full each month. And 11% of students pay only the minimum each month, while 1% pay less than the minimum.6

Certain states tend to have higher delinquency rates than others, too. According to Federal Reserve Bank of New York data from the fourth quarter of 2018, Nevada had the highest credit card delinquency rate and Nebraska had the lowest (based on the percentage of balances that are at least 90 days late).7

States with highest credit card delinquency rates, Q4 2018
Nevada10.37%
Arizona9.87%
Florida9.67%
Arkansas9.06%
New Mexico8.90%
Source: New York Fed

 

States with lowest credit card delinquency rates, Q4 2018
North Dakota4.68%
Wisconsin5.06%
Utah5.39%
Washington5.47%
Nebraska5.48%
Source: New York Fed

Calling in the debts

Collection agencies work on behalf of lenders and third-party debt collectors to reclaim past-due debts. But fewer people are getting calls from collectors. In the third quarter of 2019, slightly more than 9% of consumers had one or more debts in collections. That’s a decline from about 9.5% for the second quarter of 2019, and lower than any other period since the first quarter of 2004. The average amount they owed – about $1,450 – has been on the rise since 2016.3

Some studies also show that credit card debt may not be collectors’ top priority. In 2016, credit card debt made up 1% of total debt collected, the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals reports, with healthcare debt making up 46.8% of the collections, followed by student loan debt at 21.2%.8 In its March 2017 report, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that debt collection made up 26% of all complaints received in 2017.9

Sources

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The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

What’s up next?

In Research and Statistics

Missed card payments ticked up in 2019, but remain well below recession levels

TransUnion data show the percentage of cards with payments that are 90 or more days past due hovered around 2% for the fourth quarter of 2019 and are forecasted to be 2.01% this year. It’s the first time delinquencies have approached the 2% level since late 2010.

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Credit Card Rate Report Updated: July 8th, 2020
Business
13.91%
Airline
15.48%
Cash Back
16.09%
Reward
15.82%
Student
16.12%

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