Irrespective of the Fed' hard efforts to make things easier for credit consumers through forcing companies into better disclosures and restricting their predatory policies, lots of cardholders entered 2008 with heavy outstanding balances. While interest rate hikes, hidden penalty fees and unfair pricing and allocation of customer's payments are being fought against, customers are at sea how to manage the unpaid bills accumulated in 2007.
However, some basic line of behavior has shown up in the Online Resources Corporation survey which polled US households and financial companies in connection with the credit card crisis and increased delinquencies.
The survey has proved once again that the subprime mortgage lending crisis has affected all other US industries - credit cards market, healthcare, utility and loan payments, - impeding them to collect regular and full bill payments.
Being forced to choose between which bill to pay first, customers resort to the so-called "delinquency budget" which they create to handle debts better. The delinquency budgets of more than 1,000 US customers show the priority in allocating payments belongs to mortgage bills.
Hence, all other businesses, including credit card companies, are doing less of debt collection and do not expect to improve the numbers significantly in 2008.
This is the first result of the survey conducted by the Online Resources Corporation and it is not very encouraging. Credit card debt keeps on growing and customers still use cards as basic funds while struggling to do away with mortgage bills.
The really good thing is the increasing tendency among debtors to erase their delinquency records though web channels as they are more convenient and free from confrontational and embarrassing situations.
Customers are already accustomed to various online credit services, such as online banking or online shopping, so why not allow them to pay their delinquencies online, too? Prior Online Resources search reveals some cheerful statistics:
The privacy and convenience of a web channel have set favorable conditions for customers looking to get rid of their balances. Since the online collection services appeared, the number of unreachable delinquent cardholders has decreased. Customers are willingly turning to online services, unlike it was during the collection-by-phone practice.
So, the web channel may give credit companies a hope that at least some part of the minimum credit payments will be made.
But it is only one part of the forecast. The other is the web channel may become a turning point to success on the highly competitive credit market. Credit and other billing companies that are ready to provide customer with the opportunity of credit management online are likely to shift to the higher-priority acceptors of the "delinquency budget" share.
Not only that. The service will make for closer and more trustful relationship between a cardholder and credit company and will certainly make the issuer more popular than other competitors.
The concept of credit management online has outlined a possibility of smoother and easier payment of delinquency bills in 2008.
Financial observers believe that it might partly solve the problem of the national consumer debt currently flourishing in the USA.