Credit Limits Increasing on Credit Cards

Credit Limits Increasing on Credit Cards

The latest report from Equifax shows that credit card issuers appeared to loosen credit standards during the first nine months of 2012.

The National Consumer Trends Report by Equifax shows that new credit card accounts opened in the first three quarters of 2012 had a total of $675 billion in credit limits, a 29 percent increase over the $523 billion during the same period in 2010.

New bank card accounts for the first nine months of last year totaled 29 million, the highest number of new accounts since 2008.

The balances on consumer credit originated over the past two years was nearly 32 percent of outstanding balances, but comprised slightly less than 6 percent of total delinquent balances. This shows that issuers were more prudent and selective in approving new cardholders. In addition, new cardholders seemed to be more responsible in paying off these credit card loans.

The report shows that cardholders used just 22 percent of their available limits during the first nine months of 2012.

Equifax found that the write-off rates in November 2012 were 20 percent below 2011 levels.

"Consumer spending is being supported by gradually opening credit markets, with higher new limits on accounts, a gradual upward trend in non-mortgage consumer debt outstanding, and also consistently low utilization rates," said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts. "Meanwhile, consumer finance delinquency rates, not including home loans, have returned to pre-recession levels--all signs that the consumer-led recovery is gaining strength heading into 2013."

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