ATLANTA (10/4/13)--The total outstanding balances in August on auto loans and credit cards rose from August 2012,with bank-issued credit cards experiencing increases in two consecutive months for the first time in five years, said Equifax's latest National Consumer Credit Trends Report.
Retail card balances have notched 24 consecutive months of year-over-year growth. The total balance of existing auto loans is at its highest level in more than five years, said Equifax.
The statistics are consistent with the Monthly Credit Union Estimates for August compiled by the Credit Union National Association, where credit union new-car loan balances are surging, with an 11.9% increase the past year. (See related News Now story CUNA: Loan Growth Leads a Strong August by using the link.)
Changes in balances from August 2012 to August 2013 included:
Auto loan and credit card portfolios are the only two major segments in which rising balances accompany improving delinquency rates. Year-over-year changes in the 60-day plus delinquency rates, as a percentage of total balances outstanding, included:
The data indicate that American consumers are being very disciplined in their use of credit, said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts. "It's like they've gone on a debt-diet and they are really sticking to it, with modest increases in line with capacity to repay," she said.
"If we exclude student loans, total consumer debt is down 15% from its peak, and delinquency rates outside of home loans and student loans are back to pre-recession levels. Economic conditions are causing the lingering high default rates on student loans and mortgages, and hopefully we will see those improve more quickly in coming months," she added.
Other highlights from the most recent Equifax data: