August 14, 2020

ABA: New Report Shows Closed-End Loan Delinquencies Rise in First Quarter at Onset of COVID-19

Credit card and HELOC loan delinquencies fall during first three months of 2020

Consumer credit delinquencies rose in the first quarter of 2020 as the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic triggered an abrupt economic slowdown, according to results from the American Bankers Association’s Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin. Overall, delinquencies rose in all of the 11 closed-end loan categories tracked by ABA during the first three months of the year, while delinquencies in open-ended loans, including bank cards and home equity lines of credit, fell.

The composite ratio, which tracks delinquencies in eight closed-end installment loan categories, rose 56 basis points to 2.70 percent of all accounts as the COVID-19-era recession began in earnest (See Historical Data). The ABA report defines a delinquency as a late payment that is 30 days or more overdue.

“The data show that consumers were generally in good financial condition prior to this recession, but the pandemic’s halt on commerce led to an unprecedented increase in unemployment that made it harder for some people to meet financial obligations,” said ABA Senior Economist Rob Strand. “Banks provided unprecedented assistance to their customers during this time of need and continue to support them as the pandemic continues.”

Delinquencies in bank cards fell 49 basis points to 2.62 percent of all accounts, the lowest level since 2016.

“Credit cards became even more important as social distancing measures severely limited in-person purchases, and consumers made sure to keep their accounts in good standing,” Strand said. “When it comes to cards, consumers have controlled what they could by keeping their balances down relative to disposable income, while issuers have maintained strong underwriting standards.” (See Economic Charts)

Delinquencies from the start of the year to the end of March fell in one home-related category and rose in two. Home equity line of credit delinquencies fell eight basis points to 1.04 percent of all accounts. Home equity loan delinquencies rose 47 basis points to 3.58 percent of all accounts. Property improvement loan delinquencies rose 10 basis points to 1.64 percent of all accounts.

Delinquencies in direct auto loans (those arranged directly through a bank) rose 83 basis points to 2.02 percent of all accounts. Delinquencies in indirect auto loans (those arranged through a third party such as an auto dealer) rose 78 basis points to 3.34 percent of all accounts.

“Auto loan delinquencies hovered at historically low levels for a number of years, but they had been incrementally increasing over the past few quarters as a natural part of the economic cycle and the pandemic accelerated that trend,” said Strand. “COVID-19 had an immediate effect on people who stretched their budgets to buy more expensive cars.”

Strand noted that COVID-19 will continue to affect delinquency levels in the months ahead.

“The longevity of COVID-19 and how businesses navigate it is key to the economic outlook,” Strand said. “The pandemic has had a negative impact on consumer finances, and we expect delinquencies will reflect that in the months ahead. With more businesses reopening, more people are slowly getting back to work, which will enable them to better meet their obligations. As always, we urge those facing financial hardships to reach out to their banks as soon as they can for assistance.” 

The first quarter composite ratio is made up of the following eight closed-end loans. All figures are seasonally adjusted based upon the number of accounts.


In addition, ABA tracks three open-end loan categories:


Consumer Tips

For borrowers having trouble paying down debts, ABA advises taking action — sooner rather than later — to solve debt problems. Proven tips are listed below. Additional consumer information on budgeting, saving, managing credit and more is available at


This post was originally published here.