Late Payments on Credit Cards Near 20-Year Low

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We're paying the bills on time, more of the time.

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Credit reporting agency TransUnion says the rate of credit card payments at least 90 days overdue fell in the second quarter to 0.57 percent. That’s the lowest level since 1994, when it was at an all-time low of 0.56 percent.

That’s not to suggest a steady drop — a year ago the rate was 0.63 percent, and in the first three months of this year it was 0.69 percent, The Associated Press says. But it’s definitely good news. TransUnion also says there are only two states where the delinquency rate did not decline from a year ago: Indiana and New Hampshire.

Average credit card debt per borrower hasn’t changed much; it was $4,965 in the second quarter and $4,971 in the same period last year, TransUnion says. Of course, many Americans carry no debt at all, as we explained in “The Truth About Credit Card Debt.” Seriously indebted cardholders drive that average up, while those who pay in full every month help keep it down.

Total debt is down, even if the average hasn’t moved much. The AP says: “Americans’ credit card debt dropped $2.7 billion in June and remains 16.5 percent below its July 2008 peak, according to the Federal Reserve.”

Late payments on mortgages are also dropping — and at a much better clip than credit cards. “The national mortgage delinquency rate (the rate of borrowers 60 or more days past due) continued its unprecedented decline in 2013, dropping to 4.09 percent in Q2 2013, nearly 26 percent lower versus the same time last year,” TransUnion says.

It’s the third quarter in a row with record improvement on mortgage delinquency, and every state — even Indiana and New Hampshire — improved its rate.

Stacy Johnson

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