The number of credit cards issued by banks and retailers hit five-year highs between January and August, according to the latest Equifax National Consumer Credit Trends Report.
Consumers opened 24.6 million retailer-issued card accounts from January to August, a five-year high. The total amount of new credit issued year-to-date reach $46.6 billion, an 11.6% increase from the same period last year, Equifax said in the Nov. 25 report. Banks also made 27.6 million new credit-card loans during the same period. Thats a 7.3% increase from the same eight-month period a year ago, and the most new loans issued during that time frame since 2008.
The increased volume should come as good news to the payments industry, as new card accounts translate to increased interchange fees and revenue for processors and other merchant services providers.
As credit cards defaults and delinquencies continue to wane, banks and retailers are growing increasingly more confident in extending credit to consumers. Sixty-day delinquency rates dipped to 1.88% in October, down from 2.18% during the same month in 2012. Write-offs also fell during that period, dropping to 3.92%, compared to 4.81%.
In a separate report, TransUnion said borrowers average credit card balance fell to $5,235 in the third quarter, a 1.3% decline from the same period in 2012. Consumers were also more likely to pay their bills on time, as the national credit card delinquency rate dropped to 1.36% in the third quarter, down 14 basis points from the same period a year ago.
It appears that, with continued strong credit performance and relatively low debt levels, consumers may be in a strong position to receive more attractive, feature-rich offers from credit card lenders, Ezra Becker, vice president of research and consulting in TransUnions financial services business unit, said in a Nov. 20 statement.
On a quarterly basis, credit card debt remained flat, TransUnion said. Meanwhile, the Equifax report suggests that credit card companies are loosening lending standards. The number of loans issued to subprime borrowers people with Equifax credit scores below 660 hit a six-year high, rising to 8.2 million year-to-date. Thats a 15.8% increase from the same period in 2012.