Fewer consumers were late on their credit card payments in June, according to a report by Fitch Ratings.
Payments that were 60 or more days late dropped to 3.86 percent in June from 4.01 percent in May. It was the sixth consecutive month of improvement in late-stage delinquencies, Fitch said, and the first time in 18 months that the rate fell below 4 percent.
Early stage delinquencies — or payments that were 30 or more days late — fell to 5.13 percent from 5.27 percent, for the fourth consecutive monthly decline.
Fitch's prime credit card charge-off index — reflecting the portion of balances charged off by banks — declined to 10.57 percent from 11.13 percent a month earlier. The June decline in that category marked the first year-over-year improvement since January 2007.
Banks charge off loans as unrecoverable after they're 180 days late.
Michael Dean, a managing director at Fitch, said consumer credit quality remains under pressure because of persistently high unemployment. However, overall economic and employment declines are slowing, which is improving credit quality.
"While the improvements are a welcome sign, we still have a ways to go before we are out of the woods," Dean said.
Fitch's credit card index includes general purpose portfolios originated by companies including Bank of America, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and Discover.
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