Late payments on credit cards fall to 17-year low

Americans are keeping a close eye on their credit.

Credit-card users are so focused on keeping their accounts in good standing that they’ve driven the rate of late payments down to its lowest level in 17 years.

The national credit-card delinquency rate, or rate of payments 90 days or more past due, fell to 0.60 percent in the second quarter, down from 0.92 percent a year ago.

That’s the lowest rate since 1994, according to credit reporting agency TransUnion.

Delinquencies were expected to drop, but the improvement in that April to June period was faster than forecast.

And the improved payment habits came despite increased use of credit cards, based on quarterly data reported by banks that issue Visa and Mastercard-branded cards and data from American Express Co. and Discover Financial Corp.

TransUnion also saw higher card use, reflected in a slight uptick in the amount of debt card users carried during the quarter. The average combined total debt for all major credit cards increased by $20 from the first three months of the year — to $4,699 per borrower. Even so, that amount is down more than 5 percent from the $4,951 average in the second quarter of 2010, and is 16 percent lower than the peak average debt of $5,575 in the first quarter of 2009.


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