Bank card and closed-end loan delinquencies rose in last year’s fourth quarter but were still near record lows, according to the American Bankers Association’s Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin.

Delinquencies in seven of the 11 categories measured actually fell, according to the ABA. 

Bank card delinquencies were up slightly in the Q4, rising one basis point to 2.52% of all accounts. They are still far below their 15-year average of 3.75% and have varied by only 14 basis points since the fourth quarter of 2012.

The composite ratio, a measure of delinquencies in eight closed-end installment loan categories, rose three basis points to 1.54% of all accounts. That is below the 15-year average of 2.29%. The ABA report defines a delinquency as a late payment that is 30 days or more overdue.

"Even as incomes rise and the economy improves, consumers continue to take a judicious approach to managing their finances," said James Chessen, ABA’s chief economist. "Consumers have regained confidence since the last recession, but they remain careful about taking on additional debt. As credit access and consumer spending increase, the overwhelming majority of cardholders continue to pay off or pay down their balances month after month. We expect this trend to continue as consumers remain laser-focused on keeping debt at manageable levels."

Delinquencies in two of the three home-related categories, including home equity loans and home equity lines of credit, trended lower in Q4, falling to 3.23% and 1.48%. Delinquencies for property improvement loans increased 11 basis points to 0.93%.Chessen believes a strong economy and ongoing financial discipline from consumers bode well for future delinquency rates.

"The economy is better, incomes are higher and the risk of lending is lower," he said. "People have a greater capacity to repay their debts, and we expect delinquencies will continue to fluctuate near these low levels for the foreseeable future."

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