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Good time to apply for credit cards

by Peter Andrew

Credit card companies are becoming increasingly willing to approve card applications and offer higher limits, according to new research. That appears to be the implication of data contained in the National Consumer Credit Trends Report published by Big 3 credit bureau Equifax on April 28.

Credit cards leading the way

The report measured the amount of increased credit made available to (though not necessarily used by) consumers in January 2014. And, when compared with auto loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOC), cards saw the biggest percentage growth over the same month in 2013. Here are the figures:

  1. Bank-issued credit cards: Up 28.5 percent to $19.5 billion in January 2014 compared to January 2013.
  2. Home equity revolving credit (HELOCs): Up 18.4 percent to $7.3 billion.
  3. Auto: Up 19.8 percent to $34.3 billion.

There are other signs in the report that cards are making a comeback:

  • At $2.5 trillion, the total aggregate credit limit on cards was at its highest for 55 months in January.
  • There were 3.7 million new credit cards issued that month. That's 18.6 percent more than were issued in the same period in 2013, and a 72-month high.

Part of the reason for banks' willingness to issue new plastic may be a continuing drop in bad debt. According to Equifax, as a percentage of total balances, write-offs dipped 13.2 percent in March of this year compared with the same month in 2013.

Time to apply?

All this suggests credit card companies are more likely to approve applications than they have been for a very long time. If you haven't reviewed the contents of your wallet recently, now might be a good moment to make sure you have the very best credit cards for your needs.

Published 05/07/14

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