The December charge-off rate for prime credit card portfolios rose to its highest level since late 2005, according to Fitch Ratings' latest credit card industry report released this week. Charge-offs on prime credit card portfolios reached 7.5% of outstanding receivables, 66 basis points higher than in November, Fitch says. Charge-offs could surpass 8% in coming months and approach 9% during the second half of this year, Fitch says. Monthly payment rates partially rebounded from a substantial drop in November, rising 131 basis points to 17.27% of the monthly balance from 15.96%. The increase is indicative of some seasonal correction; the index typically exhibits a slow payment rate in November, according to Fitch. The monthly payment rate index, however, is 174 basis points lower than in December 2007, when it was 19.01%. Retail card charge-offs were flat, at 10.51%. Despite climbing 12 basis points to 5.2%, the rate of increase in Fitch's Retail Card Delinquency Index slowed for the second straight month.

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