Consumer Payment Card News

Decision Time

There is growing evidence this month that more consumers are struggling with bill payments, especially credit card payments. Rising fuel prices for the family car and for heating a home may be the culprit. The American Bankers Association’s Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin reported this month that credit card delinquencies, based on total dollars outstanding, hit 4.25% for the last three months of 2000. Between July 1, 2000 and September 30, 2000, the ABA delinquency figure stood at 3.93%. More current statistics suggest the trend has carried over into 2001. Standard & Poor’s, a research firm that tracks credit card-backed securities, reports that during February the delinquency rate hit 4.9% compared to 4.7% during January. The trend is also verified by CardData (www.carddata.com) which shows that credit card delinquency rose to 4.89% in February compared to 4.68% in August. As the economy further slows, consumer loan portfolios will start to show more signs of deterioration. However, if the Bankruptcy Reform Bill is enacted, it may reduce the actual losses that usually follow a period of higher delinquencies. For some consumers the situation may simply be a decision between keeping current or keeping warm.

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