ABA: Report Shows Consumer Delinquencies Rise in Fourth Quarter of 2019

Consumer credit delinquencies rose in the fourth quarter of 2019, driven by increases in auto and home-related delinquencies, according to results from the American Bankers Association’s Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin. Overall, delinquencies rose in eight of the 11 categories tracked by ABA while delinquencies in three categories fell.

The composite ratio, which tracks delinquencies in eight closed-end installment loan categories, rose 11 basis points to 2.14 percent of all accounts, slightly above the pre-recession average of 2.09 percent (from the first quarter of 2002 to the third quarter of 2007). (See Historical Graphics) The ABA report defines a delinquency as a late payment that is 30 days or more overdue.

“These results reflect a gradual return to long-term averages for delinquencies that have been at historically low levels for the past several years,” said Rob Strand, ABA’s senior economist. “While the coronavirus pandemic has already had a significant impact on economic conditions, banks are actively working with their customers to understand their financial needs and ensure they can continue to manage their finances during this unprecedented health emergency.”

Delinquencies in bank cards rose 15 basis points to 3.11 percent of all accounts, below the year-over-year level of 3.22 percent and remaining well under the pre-recession average of 4.33 percent.

“Credit card delinquencies remain near their lowest levels as consumers work to keep their financial obligations low relative to disposable income,” Strand said. “At the same time, lenders have maintained strong underwriting standards. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, many card issuers are supporting their customers by offering flexible bill payments as well as waiving late fees and interest.” (See Economic Charts)

Delinquencies rose in all three home-related categories. Home equity line of credit delinquencies rose five basis points to 1.12 percent of all accounts, remaining among its lowest post-recession levels but above the pre-recession average of 0.53 percent. Home equity loan delinquencies rose 25 basis points to 3.11 percent of all accounts, further above the pre-recession average of 2.12 percent. Property improvement loan delinquencies rose 37 basis points to 1.54 percent of all accounts, remaining below the pre-recession average of 1.65 percent.

Delinquencies in direct auto loans (those arranged directly through a bank) rose four basis points to 1.19 percent of all accounts, remaining well below the pre-recession average of 2.09 percent. Delinquencies in indirect auto loans (those arranged through a third party such as an auto dealer) rose 13 basis points to 2.56 percent of all accounts, above the pre-recession average of 2.03 percent.

Strand noted that the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect the trajectory of delinquencies in the months ahead.

“COVID-19 has changed the economic outlook, and we’ll be tracking its impact over the next several quarters,” Strand said. “While individual circumstances will vary significantly, consumers were generally well positioned with historically low debt levels prior to the emergence of the pandemic. Our hope is that the economic disruption will be temporary, and that we’ll settle back into a normal pattern once the health crisis has passed. It is imperative that those facing financial hardships reach out to their banks as soon as they can for assistance.”

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

CLOSED-END LOANS

  • Composite Ratio rose from 2.03 percent to 2.14 percent.
    • Mobile home delinquencies fell from 3.47 percent to 3.34 percent.
    • Personal loan delinquencies fell from 1.04 percent to 1.02 percent.
    • Direct auto loan delinquencies rose from 1.15 percent to 1.19 percent.
    • Home equity loan delinquencies rose from 2.86 percent to 3.11 percent.
    • Indirect auto loan delinquencies rose from 2.43 percent to 2.56 percent.
    • Marine loan delinquencies rose from 0.71 percent to 0.77 percent.
    • Property improvement loan delinquencies rose from 1.17 percent to 1.54 percent.
    • RV loan delinquencies rose from 0.89 percent to 0.94 percent.

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

OPEN-END LOANS

  • Non-card revolving loan delinquencies fell from 1.65 percent to 1.61 percent.
  • Bank card delinquencies rose from 2.96 percent to 3.11 percent.
  • Home equity lines of credit delinquencies rose from 1.07 percent to 1.12 percent.

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 ABA.com/Consumers.

  • Contact Consumer Credit Counseling Services at 1-800-388-2227;
  • Talk with creditors – the sooner you talk to them, the more options you have; and
  • Don’t charge more purchases until your problems are solved.

Glossary

Indirect auto loan: loan arranged through a third party such as an auto dealer.
Direct auto loan: loan arranged directly through a bank.
Delinquency: late payment that is 30 days or more overdue.
Bank card: a credit card provided by a bank.
Closed-end loan: a loan for a fixed amount of money with a fixed repayment period and regularly scheduled payments.
Open-end loan: a loan with a fixed amount of available credit but a balance that fluctuates depending on usage such as a line of credit.
Non-card revolving loan: an unsecured, open-end loan that is not linked to a credit card. Examples may include lines of credit for overdraft protection or check credit.

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