Late Credit Card Payments At Lowest Rate Since Mid '90s

We mentioned a few weeks ago that more Americans have begun paying down their credit card debt during the last two years rather than maxing out their accounts with stuff they can’t afford. Now comes another sign of more responsible behavior… the rate of late credit card payments is the lowest it’s been in 17 years — .That’s an entire Bieber!

According to credit bureau TransUnion, the national credit card delinquency rate (i.e., the rate of payments at least 90 days past due) in the second quarter of 2011 was only 0.60%, down from 0.92% during the same period in 2010.

But before you assume that the number dropped because folks are not using their credit cards, both TransUnion and the credit card companies report that there was actually a small increase in the amount of credit card use during this time period.

“Not only do we have consumers that are using their debt more responsible and taking out less debt, they’ve also cut back on the number of the cards they carry,” explains global chief scientist for TransUnion’s financial services business. He also points to an increase in debit card use as a sign that more people are not spending beyond their means.

Additionally, banks have been more selective about which applicants get approved for credit cards (even though everyone and their dog continues to get applications) and they’ve also tightened the belt on credit card limits — for new and existing cardholders — so customers have a harder time running up debt they could never pay off.

Credit card late payments hit 17-year low in 2Q [Houston Chronicle]