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Banks dish out credit cards

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Posted: 3 pm ET

Good news if you're interested in getting a credit card.

Banks are still giving out credit cards in increasing numbers versus a year ago, according to new Equifax data as reported by The Wall Street Journal. At least through July.

The number of new credit cards rose by more than 25 percent to 21.6 million from January through July, while retailer and other private-label credit cards increased by nearly 7 percent to 18.2 million.

But the nearly outdated news comes after creditors reported small increases in delinquency rates among credit card holders in September.

Earlier, I had begun to worry that banks would start to pull back once they saw across-the-board rises in late payments, retaining some of their skittishness we saw post-financial meltdown.  It's still too soon to tell, and it probably takes more than just one month of teeny tiny upticks to convince banks to jerk the reins.

And let's not forget: Equifax pointed out that September's delinquency rates are still 35 percent lower than they were last year at the same time. So, performance is still rosier than in 2010.

The other highlight from the report is that banks are not being stingy with credit lines either. Credit limits on new credit cards rose by 25 percent, while private-label cards edged up more than 4 percent. We've heard this all before. Let's hope it keeps up.

In total, consumer debt equaled $11.2 trillion, nearly the same level as it was in 2006, Equifax said. It had peaked in October 2008 at $12.4 trillion. Auto loan lending has loosened up this year, while consumer finance loans and student loans have been steady. Only home equity lending is on the decline. Not a big surprise.

So are you one of the ones who got a new credit card lately? Why? Are the offers better too?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron.

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