Credit card delinquencies have reached an 18-year low, signaling that more cardholders are paying their bills on time.
The number of accounts that were 30 days or more overdue dropped to 2.47% in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the American Bankers Association. This was down from 2.75% in the third quarter and represents the lowest level since 1994.
The delinquency rate for credit card accounts peaked at 5.01% in 2009, but the rate has dropped rather steadily since then.
Some of this decline is due to the actions of the credit card issuers and banks. They slammed on the lending breaks once the financial crisis took place, reducing their risk in credit card loans. They lowered the credit limits on millions of accounts, canceled others and tightened their lending standards, focusing on consumers with above-average credit scores.
Consumers have also done a better job paying their credit card debt and charging only what they can afford to pay off.
This seems to be a trend among consumers in all areas of their finances. A recent report by the Census Bureau shows the percentage of U.S. households carrying any debt dropped from 74% in 2000 to 69% in 2011.
A new Fidelity Investment survey showed that the 2008 financial crisis led to permanent changes in frugality, saving more in tax-deferred retirement accounts and paying down debt. The survey showed 49% have decreased their amount of personal debt, with 72% having less debt now than they did before the financial crisis.