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Credit Scores Down, but Future Brighter for Credit Card Debt

by Indexcreditcards Indexcreditcards
Credit Scores Down, but Future Brighter for Credit Card Debt

Credit Scores Down

Karma Credit last week released its U.S. Credit Score Climate Report. And it showed that the national average credit score dropped two points in January to 669. That’s the first time it’s been below 670 for a year.

Ken Lin, CEO of Credit Karma, told Collections and Credit Risk magazine that he expected credit scores to hold steady through the rest of this year, and told the publication: “I think many people really started to get a handle on their finances in 2008. They started to pay attention to how their credit was affecting them. This is why you don’t see such big decreases [in 2009] as you may expect.”

But Credit Karma’s report contained even better news. Since December, consumers with credit cards have paid down their debt by two percent. That tends to confirm the Federal Reserve’s analysis of the trend, which shows continuing debt reductions throughout 2009 and back into 2008.

Credit Card Debt in the Larger Picture

The report also revealed some fairly startling figures about overall consumer indebtedness. It says that, in January 2010, the average consumer with an account had:

  • $7,925 in credit card debt
  • $180,190 in home mortgage loans
  • $51,919 in home equity loans
  • $14,736 in auto loans
  • $26,337 in student loans

Of course, it’s widely acknowledged that personal debt in the U.S. is high. The Federal Reserve says that, in December, American consumers owed $2.46 trillion. But, somehow, seeing it broken down by individual account holders makes it all the more depressing.

Credit Card Companies Look to Brighter Future?

A little more cheerfully, the big credit card companies released monthly data Tuesday that contained mixed news. The Wall Street Journal said that the figures “…reinforce the challenges facing lenders.” However, Forbes ran its report under the headline “Clouds Parting over Credit Card Troubles,” and said that “Improvements in delinquency figures could signal that fewer credit card defaults are ahead….”

But even the Journal had to admit the possibility of light at the end of the credit card tunnel:

“Delinquency trends indicate we’re moving toward lower charge-offs eventually,” said Scott Valentin, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. But “clearly, it’s still a stressed environment.” Valentin said he expects charge-offs–credit-card loans on which lenders don’t expect to collect–to peak by April-May.

Credit Card Offers Increasing

In separate credit card news, the Synovate Mail Monitor was published last week, with the following headline, “Credit Card Offers Make a Comeback to US Households,” and continued:

During Q4 2009, US households received 398.5 million credit card offers, a 46% increase from the 272.5 million offers received during Q3 2009. However, volumes are still fairly tepid when compared to 668.1 million offers mailed during the same time a year ago.

All of which is extraordinarily good news for aficionados of junk mail.

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