Average credit card debt and credit card loan delinquency per borrower both declined in the first quarter ended March 31 compared with the previous quarter, the first decrease since the first quarter of 2007, according to TransUnion.com's Quarterly Credit Card Analysis.

Average credit card debt dropped 1.25% from the previous quarter's $1,694 total to $1,673, though the total remains 5.6% higher than the same period a year ago ($1,584). Nationally, the ratio of credit card borrowers delinquent (90 or more days past due) on one or more of their credit cards declined to 1.19% in the first quarter of 2008, down 12.5% over the previous quarter ended December 31. The total is nevertheless higher than the first quarter of 2007 (0.91%).

"Recent deceleration, however slight, in the mortgage delinquency rate is reflected in the bank card market as consumers take stock of their overall debt and begin to catch up on their repayment schedule wherever possible," says Ezra Becker, principal consultant in TransUnion's financial services group. "Even states like California, Florida and Nevada that have experienced large increases over the last four quarters in their bank card delinquency rates showed a drop in the first quarter."

Nevada (1.74%), Mississippi (1.53%) and Florida (1.51%) posted the highest credit card loan delinquency rates per borrower. The lowest delinquency rates were found in North Dakota (0.67%), Utah (0.75%) and South Dakota (0.79%). Alaska posted the highest state average card debt per credit card borrower at $2,378, followed by Tennessee at $2,013 and Alabama at $2,005. The lowest average credit card debt per credit card borrower was found in Iowa ($1,252), North Dakota ($1,265) and South Dakota ($1,365).

The steepest increases in average credit card debt over the previous quarter occurred in Alaska (1.54%), Hawaii (1.45%) and Alabama (0.44%). The District of Columbia experienced the largest drop in its average credit card debt (-4.38%), followed by North Dakota (-4.0%) and West Virginia (-3.67%).

"Although the national 90-day delinquency rate is expected to drop slightly next quarter as consumers continue to take stock of their overall debt, forecasts for the remainder of the year see delinquency to gradually edge back up to 1.20 percent and above, as increases in gas prices add to the overall financial burden of the consumer," says Becker.

The TransUnion.com report is part of a series of quarterly consumer lending sector analyses focusing on credit card, auto loan and mortgage data.

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