Capital One Financial Corp. today reported that its U.S. credit card segment's net charge-off rate fell to 9.32% of managed receivables in August from 9.83% the previous month, and from 9.73% in June.

The McLean, Va.-based issuer's charge-off rate had decreased four consecutive months before it increased to more than 9.8% in July. Since then, the rate declined 51 basis points. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.

Delinquency rates of card accounts at least 30 days past due rose to 5.09% last month from 4.93% in July, according to a company filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

At least one ratings agency warns that the recent improvement in credit card charge-off rates is a temporary. While bankcard issuers' overall charge-off rates declined in July from record highs in June, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services last week said in its U.S. Credit Card Quality Index report that it does not expect charge-off rates to continue declining.

Though recent declines in charge-off rates "may reflect the effects of stricter underwriting standards and a more-cautious consumer base, Standard & Poor's expects losses to rise again in the next few months for several reasons," the ratings agency said. The chief reason is continued high U.S. unemployment rates, which have a strong link to charge-off rates.

Cap One also reported today that its auto finance segment's net charge-off rate increased to 4.31% last month from 4.26% in July. The issuer's 30-day auto finance delinquency rate increased 20 basis points to 9.42% from 9.22% in July.

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