Growth is hard to come by in the credit card business, but major lenders are sticking with a smaller pool of customers with higher credit scores.

Issuers charged off mountains of bad accounts in the aftermath of the recession, ultimately breaking a historic link between joblessness and credit performance. Now, even with loss rates at longtime lows despite high unemployment and nationwide receivables stuck in a trough, portfolios have continued to shift toward borrowers with the strongest payment histories. (The following graphic shows credit score distributions over time at the Big Six. Text continues below.)

Limited Time Offer

Save $400 off your subscription. Special offer ends April 30, 2017.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.