Late credit card payments at 19-year low

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The percentage of credit card holders at least 90 days past due on their accounts fell to its second-lowest reading in the second quarter of this year.

The national credit card delinquency rate decreased to 0.57 percent from 0.69 percent in the first quarter, according to a report released Tuesday from TransUnion, a credit reporting bureau. That’s down from 0.63 percent a year ago and marks the lowest level since the second quarter of 1994, when the rate hit its all-time low of 0.56 percent.

The average credit card debt increased to $4,965 in the second quarter from $4,875 in the first quarter. It was down slightly from $4,971 a year ago.

TransUnion attributed the low delinquency rate to consumers’ prioritizing their credit card payments over other debt obligations.

Another reason the rate has been consistently below-average is that consumers also have longer grace periods to pay their bills because of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, says John Ulzheimer, credit expert at

“The key is whether or not this consumer behavior persists over time,” says Ulzheimer. “It’s been my experience that this behavior tends to ebb and flow over time.”

TransUnion expects delinquency rates to be unchanged in the third quarter.

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