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Credit card debt surpasses pre-pandemic levels: Fed


In its analysis, the blog speculated that worsening delinquency rates may be due to an increase in interest rates, higher inflation and a return to pre-pandemic patterns. The decline could also possibly be related to a deterioration in underwriting standards, the blog said.

The fact that younger borrowers are struggling to repay their credit card and auto loans even while federal student loan repayments have been paused is a concern because repayment on the student loan obligations is planned to resume later this year, the post noted.

“Credit card balances grew robustly in the 4th quarter, while mortgage and auto loan balances grew at a more moderate pace, reflecting activity consistent with pre-pandemic levels,” Wilbert van der Klaauw, economic research advisor at the New York Fed, said in a statement. “Although historically low unemployment has kept consumer’s financial footing generally strong, stubbornly high prices and climbing interest rates may be testing some borrowers’ ability to repay their debts.” 

One could argue that the rise in credit card debt and delinquencies comes as no surprise, given an increase in credit card demand and former credit reporting agencies delinquency forecasts. 

A November report from the New York Federal Reserve Bank found that 27.1% of consumers applied for a credit card during the previous 12 months as of October, up from 26.5% in 2021. The Fed also found at that time that the rejection rate for credit card applications dropped by 2.4 percentage points to 18.5%.

About a month later, TransUnion released a forecast predicting that financial institutions would only originate 80.9 million credit cards this year, down from 2022. The report also noted that more than half of consumers felt their incomes weren’t keeping pace with inflation, and over eight in 10 cited inflation as one of their top three financial concerns over the next six months.