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UK Holiday Card Spend Rose 10 Percent In 2012, FICO Data Reveals

LONDON, Feb. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --  FICO (NYSE:FICO), the leading provider of analytics and decision management technology, today released its quarterly UK cards data showing that average total sales per "classic" credit card hit a two-year high in December of £600.25, surpassing the level from December 2011 by 10 percent. The latest data from the FICO ® Benchmark Reporting Service showed that average sales per Irish (Euro) card also rose, hitting a two-year high of €732.55, while student cards were slightly above 2011 levels. Only premium cards fell in terms of spending compared to December 2011.

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"The growth in card spending far outstripped the growth in December retail sales compared to last year, which the government puts at 1.8 percent, excluding fuel," said Nigel Brayne, senior director of Global Business Consulting at FICO. "This suggests that many consumers shifted their spending to credit cards, perhaps so that they could pay for gifts over a longer period of time. Just as consumers are worried about their finances, card issuers will be monitoring their accounts closely for signs of delinquency."

For accounts on the books less than 12 months, FICO's data also showed a drop of 22 percent in the percentage of payments to balance, compared with December 2011. For these accounts, average total sales were up 4 percent over last year and utilization was up 5 percent.

"We recommend card issuers review the credit quality of their newly booked accounts," said Brayne. "By reviewing application score cut-offs and criteria, they can see whether they're booking a riskier population. They may also want to bring additional data into their origination decisions. If the credit quality has dropped, it's a good idea to review their initial line allocations, as our data shows these also rose since 2011."

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