A new study finds that cardholders between the ages of 40 and 44 are 12% more likely to go seriously delinquent on a credit card than a cardholder age 19.
Serious card delinquency is defined as being more than 90 days late on a card account payment.
Researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and Arizona State University analyzed data from the New York Federal Reserve Bank's Consumer Credit Panel and Equifax to conduct what they said is the first serious study of the relationship of age and card default.
The researchers acknowledged that the data showed younger card account holders had higher rates of 30-60 day delinquency, but that “the magnitude of the differences in minor delinquency across ages is much smaller than those we find for serious delinquency.”
The study also did not attribute the better card behavior among younger borrowers to the Credit Card Accountability and Responsibility Act. Researchers deliberately looked at data coming from both before and after the Act was implemented to evaluate cardholder behavior.
The CARD Act made opening a credit card account for someone under 21 years of age illegal, unless the young adult had a cosigning co-applicant or could otherwise prove they had a means of repaying debt incurred on the card.
“Using the passage of the Act to identify the selection effect we find that individuals who would have chosen to enter the credit card market early in the absence of the Act are less likely to experience serious delinquency or default than the individuals who enter the credit card market later,” the researchers wrote.
“Furthermore, these individuals are more likely to be homeowners early in life. We interpret these results as indicating that some young individuals choose to enter the credit card market to establish a credit record and thus facilitate the transition to home ownership. Our findings contrast with the view that young individuals get credit cards early primarily as a response to aggressive advertising to this demographic group,” the researchers wrote.