U.S. consumers improved their on-time payment performance on credit card bills during the first quarter, despite shrinkage in the economy
Delinquencies on bank-issued credit cards fell slightly to 2.49 percent of all accounts in the first quarter, from 2.52 percent. The bankers’ group counts missed payments more than 30 days overdue as a delinquency.
“Delinquencies for credit cards have remained remarkably stable at historically low rates,” ABA Chief Economist James Chessen said in a statement. Over the past 15 years, the average delinquency rate was 3.76 percent.
The economy shrank at an annual rate of 0.2 percent in the first quarter, as measured by gross domestic product. Consumers’ ability to shrug off the downturn and continue improving their financial footing “speaks to sustained consumer discipline as Americans continue to use and manage their debt responsibly,” Chessen said.
Balances on revolving credit lines — mainly credit cards — rose a scant 0.4 percent annualized during the quarter, according to the Federal Reserve.
Consumers maintained discipline in other forms of debt. The ABA’s composite ratio of consumer loan delinquencies fell one basis point to 1.53 percent of accounts, compared to a 15-year average of 2.28 percent. The quarter saw significant drops in home equity loan and home equity line delinquencies.