Americans Falling Behind On Credit Card Payments Again

As a country, we were doing pretty well paying down our credit card debt for most of 2009, but according to Moody’s Investor Services, the number of people who are behind on their payments rose slightly in November.

The charge-off rate on U.S. credit cards, as measured by Moody’s Credit Card Index, rose to 10.56% last month after falling for the two previous months. October’s charge-off rate was 10.04%.

The charge-off rate measures those credit card account balances written off as uncollectable, as an annualized percentage of total outstanding principal balance. The record-high of 10.76% was reached in June.

The delinquency rate also rose, reaching 6.2% in November from 6.1% in October. That includes all credit card payments that are between 30 days and 180 days late, but have not yet been written off. This figured peaked at 6.4% reached in March.

With record unemployment, it seems like the delinquency rate would be higher. However, the total amount of delinquent balances in dollars, not as a percentage of consumers, is lower than this time last year. This could be a sign of better consumer behavior–or just an effect of lenders lowering borrowers’ credit limits.

Moody’s: November credit card payments slip [AP] (Thanks, Snarkysnake!)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.