Credit card delinquencies fell to their lowest point in 17 years in the second quarter as consumers remained cautious about taking on more debt and issuers continued their conservative approach to lending, TransUnion Corp. said Tuesday.
The national rate of credit-card borrowers who were 90 or more days late on paying their bills was 0.6% in the quarter, down from 0.74% in the first quarter and 0.92% a year earlier, the credit bureau said.
"National credit card delinquency rates have fallen to levels not seen since 1994 as consumers continue to tighten their spending," Ezra Becker, the vice president of research and consulting in TransUnion's financial services business unit, said in a press release.
Becker also cited charge-offs of bad loans and tight underwriting standards by issuers as factors affecting performance.
As a result, applicants approved for new accounts "are less likely to default even in the face of continued high unemployment levels," Becker said.
There are some small signs that lenders' efforts to grow their portfolios are working. The amount of credit card debt per borrower in the second quarter ticked up 0.42% from the first quarter to $4,699, though it was still down 5.1% from a year earlier and "remains near record-low levels," TransUnion said.
A small number of bank lenders in July reported a slight increase in demand for credit card and auto loans, according to the Federal Reserve Board's Senior Loan Officer Survey, which was released Monday. However, the "pickup in demand was not widespread," the Fed said.
The amount of outstanding revolving credit that U.S. consumers carried in June increased by about $5.2 billion, the Fed reported in a separate report this month. The total consists primarily of credit card debt.