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Credit card customers are doing better at maintaining their account balances. As we move further and further away from The Great Recession, consumers are taking more interest in being responsible for their finances. The good news is that it’s actually working! And consumers are actually making a difference in their pockets. In fact, the consumers are so diligently taking care of their credit card concerns that late payments have dipped to the lowest level in 17 years.
According to TransUnion, a credit card reporting agency, the national credit card delinquency rate or payments that are 90 days or more past due have fell .60 percent in the second quarter. This number is down .92 percent from a year ago, and is the lowest since 1994. TransUnion’s report found that more consumers were choosing to use their credit cards over debit cards and cash. But in spite of increased credit cards usage, delinquency payments still decreased. This shows that consumers are actually making conscious decisions in regards to budgeting, credit cards and spending habits.
Here’s How You Can Reduce Your Late Fees:
Carry Less Cards: Having less cards means that you will have less open accounts that require financial diligence in order to avoid late fees. Finance analysts expected consumer delinquencies to drop due to better consumer money management and better spending habits, but the numbers are far better than any analysts’ predictions. "Not only do we have consumers that are using their debt more responsibly and taking out less debt, they've also cut back on the number of the cards they carry," said Chet Wiermanski, global chief scientist for TransUnion's financial services business said.
Know Your Debt: According to the report, the average combined total debt for all major credit cards increased approximately $20 from the first three months of the year to $4,699 per consumer. Surprisingly, that number is about five percent lower than it was in the second quarter of 2010, which clocked in at a debt level of $4,951, and 16 percent lower than the average debt in the first quarter of 2009, where the debt reached $5,575. If your debt is decreasing, then you know you are doing something right. If you are not aware of your debt, then it is easy for it to let it slip away from you.
Several other factors have contributed to the declining delinquency rate. Banks have become stricter when it comes to approving credit card applications. And because of this consumers with low credit scores are feeling the pain of denial more so now than ever.
No Credit, Use Cash. Consumers with bad credit have to rely more on debit and cash resources. Banks have also reduced credit limits on existing cards, which makes it harder for consumers to run up large balances which they can not afford to pay off. Use your credit card for large ticket items, and don’t simply run to your credit card because you are out of cash. Credit is a privilege and should be used wisely. Think before you charge.
The thought process behind using credit cards is changing everyday, as long as consumers learn to live with debt and not let it overtake them, then debt management should progress. Based on the data, analysts predict that consumers will continue to monitor their money and the delinquency rate will continue to decline for the remainder of the year. "It's hard to forecast where this is going when you've reached a historical low," Wiermanski said. "Because you're in uncharted waters." If consumers continue on this trend, it could be the start of a beautiful relationship between the credit card issuer and the consumer.