Credit card loan delinquencies were basically unchanged in the fourth quarter of 2006, according to the American Bankers Association’s Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin.
Late payments on credit cards were 4.56 percent of accounts in the fourth quarter, compared to 4.57 percent in the third quarter (seasonally adjusted).
The composite ratio, which tracks delinquencies in eight closed-end installment loan categories, increased to 2.23 in the fourth quarter, compared to 2.12 percent in the third quarter. This increase was driven by delinquencies in indirect auto loans, which are arranged through dealerships, and home equity loans. Composite ratio delinquencies are in line with the 10-year average of 2.20 percent.
“It’s not a surprise to see some increase in home equity loan delinquencies, given the weaknesses in the housing market,” said James Chessen, ABA’s chief economist. “Looking at the whole profile of consumer finances, American consumers are, by and large, managing debt well. We are cautiously optimistic that the spillover will be small, given continued job growth and a still strong economy.” (See data charts on page 5.)
– The fourth quarter composite ratio found the following:
– Home equity loan delinquencies increased to 1.92 percent from 1.79 percent
– Indirect auto loan delinquencies increased to 2.57 percent from 2.35 percent
– Direct auto loan delinquencies decreased to 1.85 percent from 1.87 percent
– Mobile home loan delinquencies dropped to 2.82 percent from 3.24 percent
– Property improvement loan delinquencies decreased to 1.29 percent from 1.68 percent
– Recreational vehicle loan delinquencies increased to 0.96 percent from 0.89 percent
– Marine loan delinquencies increased to 1.33 percent from 1.04 percent
– Personal loan delinquencies remained at 1.91 percent
Additionally, delinquencies for home equity lines of credit- the lowest delinquency rate category – held steady at 0.57 percent. This form of revolving credit carries a variable interest rate, unlike home equity loans that are traditional second mortgages carrying a fixed-interest rate over a set time period.
The bulletin is a quarterly survey of more than 300 banks nationwide reporting on the percentage of consumer loans that are 30 days or more past due.
ABA advises consumers to review their finances every year and watch for the warning signs of being overextended on credit:
– Paying only the minimum payment month after month
– Being out of cash constantly
– Being late on important payments, such as rent or mortgage
– Taking longer and longer to pay off balances
– Borrowing from one lender to pay another
For those who are having trouble paying down their debts, ABA advises consumers to take action to solve debt problems with the following tips.
– Talk with creditors – hiding only makes the problem worse
– Don’t charge more purchases until your problems are solved
– Avoid bankruptcy – it’s a short-term solution with long-term consequences
– Contact Consumer Credit Counseling Services at 800-388-2227. For more information on budgeting, saving and managing credit, visit the ABA Education Foundation’s Consumer Connection Web page at www.aba.com.
The American Bankers Association, on behalf of the more than 2 million men and women who work in the nation’s banks, brings together all categories of banking institutions to best represent the interests of this rapidly changing industry. Its membership – which includes community, regional and money center banks and holding companies, as well as savings associations, trust companies and savings banks – makes ABA the largest banking trade association in the country.