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Consumers keeping close control of credit cards

by Peter Andrew
Consumers keeping close control of credit cards

The proportion of credit card borrowers nationwide who were 90 days or more past due on their accounts fell to just 0.57 percent in the second quarter of 2013, according to new data from TransUnion, one of the big-three credit bureaus. That’s down from 0.69 percent the previous quarter, and is just one basis point above the all-time low of 0.56 percent, a record set 19 years ago.

Credit card debt reined in

Meanwhile, TransUnion reckons that the average credit card debt owed per borrower edged down to $4,875 in that quarter from $4,965 the same time last year. However, the graph tracking this drop is not a smooth one, and card debt rose slightly in some previous recent periods.

Ezra Becker, vice president of research and consulting in TransUnion’s financial services business unit, thinks part of the reason for Americans wanting to stay on top of their plastic is their recognition of its usefulness in emergencies.

“Despite recent improvements in the employment situation, consumers continue to value their credit card relationships as a primary means of liquidity,” Becker said in a written statement. “The data supports that consumers will continue to prioritize their credit card relationships over other credit obligations, and delinquencies should remain low into the near future.”

A complicated picture

A recent Associated Press report notes that consumers remain reluctant to take on new card debt because they worked hard to pay down balances during the Great Recession. However, motivations may be more complicated than that, as recently explored here.

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