Nationwide, consumers slipped a bit in credit card payments and moved their card debt burden a little higher in the third quarter, according to TransUnion, one of the nation's three major credit reporting bureaus.
The ratio of borrowers 90 or more days past due on their credit card bills increased slightly to 0.75% in third quarter from 0.71% in the third quarter of 2011, the company said. This rate had been 0.63% in the second quarter of this year, a seasonal low.
Average credit card debt per borrower also increased on a yearly basis by 4.91%, rising to $4,996 in third quarter of this year from $4,762 in the third quarter of 2011. On a quarterly basis, average credit card debt was up 0.50% relative to the second quarter, the company added.
“Credit card delinquencies are following a pattern similar to what we observed in 2011, with declines in the first two quarters of the year followed by an increase in the third,” said Ezra Becker, vice president of research and consulting in TransUnion’s financial services business unit. “That seasonal consistency is encouraging. Credit card debt trends in 2012 also are mirroring 2011, with a decrease in the first quarter followed by two increases over the next six months. With both delinquencies and debt levels remaining quite low relative to historical norms, we are confident in the continued stability of credit card usage patterns in the short term.”
TransUnion noted as well that more cards are being issued now, with new credit card originations moving higher, to 3.14% in this year's second quarter relative to the same period last year. And the bureau reported that a significant portion of those went to non-prime borrowers.
Fully 29.55% of new cards issued in the second quarter of this year went to borrowers with credit scores of less than 700, the company said, slightly higher than one year ago and much higher than the 23.86% observed in second quarter of 2010.
“Non-prime borrowers continue to gain more access to credit. In conjunction with the growth in the overall number of card originations in the last few years, it means that the credit card pie is bigger, and non-prime consumers are getting a bigger slice of that pie,” said Becker. “It is possible that the slight increase in delinquencies year over year can be attributed in part to the increased share among non-prime borrowers of new accounts, but even so these delinquency numbers are not a cause for concern. We’ve found that consumers continue to value their credit cards more than ever, and will likely do so at least until unemployment further abates.”