Credit card charge-offs are expected to remain low in 2012 for as long as bankcard trusts maintain their current credit characteristics, Standard & Poor's said in an emailed note this morning.

However, new account additions to existing trusts are still a key concern, they said. January charge-offs dropped 10 basis points to a record low of 4.3%, decreasing from a peak of 10.5% in February 2010, as reported by the S&P CCQI Index.

Bankcard limits, open cards and credit inquiries increased in 4Q11, the New York Federal Reserve reported, which is a sign of growing need for credit access and underwriting standards easing.

Meanwhile, charge-offs for Canadian credit card trusts are close to U.S. levels, despite a small uptick in January. The average charge-off rate for Canadian credit card trusts was 4.4% in January, going up from 4.3% a month earlier and dropping from 5.2% one year ago, according to the index.

The latest charge-off rate was less than the Oct. 2009 peak of 6.5%, but was still more than the pre-recession’s less-than 4% levels. January 30+ day delinquencies were 3.3%, 10 basis points more than last month, but 50 basis points less than a year ago.

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