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Credit card balances, delinquencies up


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Americans’ credit card debt is on the rise, but Iowans can claim the lowest balances in the country.

A TransUnion.com analysis of trends in the credit card industry for the third quarter of 2008 indicates total bank-issued credit card debt increased nationally to $5,710, a 6 percent increase compared with the third quarter of 2007. Iowa credit card holders, by comparison, had the lowest total credit card debt among all the states, at $4,277. Residents in the Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) were closer to the national average, with total balances averaging just under $5,000.

The figures are based on TransUnion’s database of 27 million consumer records, which the credit reporting company randomly samples on an anonymous basis quarterly at the national, state and MSA levels. The figures include only bank-issued cards such as Visa and MasterCard and not retailer-issued cards.

Nationally, the ratio of bankcard borrowers delinquent for 90 days or more on one or more of their bankcards increased to 1.09 percent in the third quarter of 2008, up 4.8 percent from the previous quarter. The delinquency rate among Iowa cardholders averaged 0.85 percent, a slight increase from the second quarter, and 0.93 percent in the Des Moines MSA, a small decrease from the previous quarter.

TransUnion’s forecasting models for the national 90-day delinquency rate suggest a possible flattening or minimal increase in the fourth quarter of 2008 due to curtailed holiday spending. However, as economic conditions worsen and consumer confidence continues to deteriorate due to the ongoing economic crisis, delinquency rates could reach as high as 1.4 percent by the end of 2009, the company estimates.

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