Card Defaults, Late Payments Still Dropping

NEW YORK ( -- Credit card defaults and late payments dropped again in April, falling to levels last seen in 2008. Five of the six top credit card companies reported delinquencies and defaults dropped in April to multiyear lows.

This is another sign of recovery for credit card issuers.

After the economic downturn began in 2008, lenders drastically cut credit limits on millions of cardholders, canceled accounts on their riskiest borrowers and tightened approval requirements for new customers. Many cardholders have also steadily paid down credit card balances. These changes are all playing a factor in these declining default and late payment figures.

Bank of America was the only major credit card issuer that reported a rising default rate in April.
  • Bank of America (BAC) was the only major issuer that reported a rising default rate in April. The bank's annualized charge-off rate, which reflects uncollectible balances, was 8.25%, up from 8.18% in March. Bank of America's charge-off rate peaked at 14.53% in August 2009. Late payments dropped to 4.52% of balances annualized (the lowest level for the bank since mid-2006), down from 4.82% in March.
  • American Express (AXP) still leads the industry with the lowest rate of charge-offs and defaults. Charge-offs were 3.5% of balances on an annualized basis for April, down from 3.7% in March. Late payments were 1.7% in April, down from 1.8% in March.
  • Citi's (C) default rate was 7.85% of balances on an annualized basis, down from 7.89% in March. Late payments fell to 3.87% in April, down from 4.21% in March.
  • Capital One (COF) defaults dropped to 4.97% annualized. That was down from 5.87% in March. Late payments dropped to 3.41% of balances, down from 3.59% in March.
  • Discover's (DFS) charge-off rate was 5.02% of balances in April, down from 5.18% in March. The delinquency rate dropped to 3.15% in April, down from 3.42% in March.
  • JPMorgan Chase (JPM) defaults were 5.6% in April, down from 6.02% in March. Late payments dropped to 2.86%, down from 3.08% in March.

-- Reported by Bill Hardekopf of
Bill Hardekopf is chief executive of, which compares and rates more than 1,000 credit cards. He is the co-author of "The Credit Card Guidebook."