Forecast: Card delinquency, debt levels to remain healthy

Putting the Great Recession completely behind us will take consumer lending markets more than seven years, but we’re finally in the home stretch, according to TransUnion's latest forecast.

In its projections for year-end 2016, the credit bureau predicts that both credit card debt and serious delinquency rates will have fully flattened out by then, to levels that cement a recovery that began in 2009.

The rate of serious credit card delinquencies -- defined as the ratio of borrowers late 90 or more days on one or more credit cards -- stood at 2.86 percent at the end of 2009. But four years later, it had been cut almost in half, to less than 1.50 percent. Credit card debt per borrower followed a similar downward trajectory, dropping 12 percent from 2009 to 2013 as lenders tightened credit access in the wake of the financial crisis.

If the forecasts for 2015's final quarter and year-end 2016 come to fruition, both delinquency rates and credit card debt will have remained essentially flat since 2013, a sign that, even as the ranks of credit card borrowers continues to grow, consumers are managing their debt responsibly.

"These are the hallmarks of a credit market that is functioning extremely well," said Ezra Becker, vice president of research and consulting in TransUnion's financial services business unit.

TransUnion prepares its quarterly credit market reports and annual forecasts based on anonymized credit data from virtually every credit-active consumer in the United States. Its 2016 forecast was released Dec. 9.



See related: Credit card delinquency statistics, More infographics

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Updated: 01-21-2018