Taking advantage of sinking second mortgage loan interest rates, more Americans are apparently folding credit card debt into home equity. Since credit card rates have not tracked the downward spiral in general interest rates and do not provide income tax deductibility, the smart money is on home equity lines of credit. The American Bankers Association suggested this week the debt shift from credit cards to home equity may be to blame for a surprisingly sharp drop in credit card delinquencies during the first three months of this year. The decline in credit card late payments may also be linked to an uptick in personal bankruptcies which is being driven by anticipation of new bankruptcy laws, likely to take effect early next year. Based on the number of credit card accounts, 2.99% were overdue during the first quarter, down 10% from 3.34% in the previous quarter, and 3.28% for first quarter 2000 according to the American Bankers Association’s ‘Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin’. First quarter credit card delinquencies, based on total dollars outstanding, were 4.13%, down from the previous quarter’s 4.25% but higher than 3.94% in the same period last year. The first quarter 2001 figures are the lowest first quarter numbers reported in more than five years.