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Consumer Credit Card Delinquency Rates Down Across the Board

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — The average credit card debt among U.S. households is $15,480, according to the Federal Reserve.

That's deceptive, though, because it is made up mostly of the people who owe the most. Take out those deeply in debt households and the average consumer credit card debt falls to $7,221.

Further, credit card delinquencies are at a seven-year low, according to TransUnion. National credit card delinquency dropped to 1.16% in the second quarter of 2014, a 15% decline in the past quarter alone. (TransUnion measures the delinquency rate on consumers who are 90 or more days late on their credit card bill.)

Delinquency rates are down among all demographic groups, by age and by income levels. That shows Americans are showing confidence in the economy and know excessive debt — the kind that laid so many families low during the Great Recession years — needs to be avoided.

"Consumers continue to have a good handle on their credit cards, with delinquencies at all-time lows across the spectrum," says Ezra Becker, a vice president of research at TransUnion.

One group that really cut into its delinquency rate were those age 30 to 39, slashing debt by more than 10% from the first quarter to the second.

The lowest delinquency debt rate comes from the 60-and-older demographic, where delinquency is at a near rock-bottom 0.68%, down 4.74% from the first quarter.

The 40-to-60 age group has a higher credit card debt burden, but that's actually to be expected, Becker says.

"Traditionally, consumers carry heavier debt loads between the ages of 40 and 60, as they are in their peak purchasing years," he says. "They also tend to spend more on items such as new cars, home furnishings, college tuition for their children, etc. As we've noted in recent quarters, younger consumers continue to have lower debt levels — which can be attributed in part to limited access to card credit and a greater reliance on debit cards, among other factors."

Americans are also doing a good job keeping a lid on credit card debt balances. No demographic group saw a more than 2% rise in card account balances for the past quarter, another sign Americans are keeping debt under control.

— By Brian O'Connell

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