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New Year's resolutions kept: U.S. credit card debt dropped in January

Published: Thursday, Feb. 16 2012 11:27 a.m. MST

This July 30, 2008, file photo, shows credit card stickers posted at a bowling alley in Palo Alto, Calif.

Paul Sakuma, AP

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Credit card debt in the U.S. has dropped by 8 percent to $6,069 per person in January from December’s total, showing that many Americans are trying to pay down holiday spending, according to Bankrate.com.

Average credit card balances dropped in nearly every state, with Arkansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and West Virginia dropping debts by upwards of 15 percent.

The credit portion of the consumer stress index release by CredAbility, a nonprofit credit counseling service, is the most stable category among Americans, according to Bankrate. The index measures late credit card payments, delinquent loan payments and bankruptcy filings.

Major credit card companies saw drops in defaults last month, including Discover.

Discover defaults dropped to 2.75 percent from 3.15 in December, according to the Washington Post. Late payments also fell to 2.31 percent of balances from 2.32 percent last month.

“It reflects all the work they’ve done over the last three to four years,” Cynthia Ullrich, an analyst with Fitch Ratings, told the Washington post. She also said the company has improved its collection strategies.

Though the country is improving credit card payments, not all credit card companies are seeing the same results.

New York-based Citibank reported an increase in customers who defaulted on their credit cards in January as well as in rise in late payments, according Bloomberg Businessweek.

The credit card provider wrote off 5.27 percent of balances on an annualized basis, which is a rise from 5.11 percent in December. Delinquent payments rose to 3.13, up from 3.11 percent in December.

Some organizations are giving advice on improving a bad credit rating as Americans pay of their credit card debt.

Receiving a full credit report, reviewing recent credit history and collateralizing assets are some steps towards repairing bad credit, according to Financial Edge. The article suggests that keeping your current credit problems under control is the first step in rebuilding credit because some lenders look at indictors other than a low credit score.

EMAIL: jferguson@desnews.com

TWITTER: @joeyferguson

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