The rate of credit card payments overdue by at least 90 days dropped to 1.16% in the second quarter ending June 30, the lowest level in at least seven years, TransUnion reported Tuesday.
The report indicates consumers are doing a better job of making timely payments even as lenders extend credit more often to people with troubled credit histories.
The late-payment rate peaked in the first quarter of 2009 at 3.12%, TransUnion officials said. The credit bureau's data dates to 2007, drawn from information culled from nearly every U.S. consumer who uses credit.
Average card debt per borrower rose slightly in the second quarter, up about 0.2% to $5,234. It increased 1.4% from the first quarter of this year.
The second-quarter credit card delinquency rate is down from 1.27% from the same period last year and 1.37% from the first three months of this year.
Credit card borrowing began rising again in 2011, but the increases have lagged far behind other types of debt, including auto and student loans, according to TransUnion. Overall, U.S. credit card debt has increased 1.3% over the past year, reaching $873.1 billion in June, according to the Federal Reserve.
Lenders are showing more generosity in the amount of credit they extend to cardholders. The average credit limit on new bankcard accounts has risen steadily, up 29.4% to $5,230 over the three-year period ended March 31, TransUnion said. The data lag by a quarter, so those latest TransUnion figures cover the January-March period.
The increase in credit card limits indicates lenders are feeling they can take on more risk while giving consumers a bigger credit cushion, said Tony Guitart, TransUnion's director of research and consulting.
The number of new credit card accounts opened in the January-March period by consumers rose 17.8% to about 11.7 million versus the same period a year earlier.
The share of cards issued to borrowers with less-than-perfect credit increased to 31.2%, compared with 27.3% a year earlier. That remains far below the roughly 45% share of cards going to non-prime borrowers before the recession.
In the VantageScore credit rating scale, consumers with a score lower than 700 on a scale of 501-990 are considered non-prime borrowers.