Fewer borrowers have severely delinquent credit card accounts

The number of consumers nationwide who are struggling with credit card debt shrunk once again in the first quarter of the year, to levels not seen in nearly 15 years.

The total number of borrowers who had at least one credit card account that was 90 days or more behind on payments slipped to just 0.74 percent in the third three months of the year, according to the latest quarterly report from the credit monitoring bureau TransUnion. That marked a drop of almost 10 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010 and a 33 percent drop from the first quarter of 2010. In addition, it’s the lowest rate observed since the third quarter of 1996.

“Two big reasons for the decrease in credit card delinquency are that consumers continue to deleverage, and lenders are still conservative in how they extend new card credit,” said Ezra Becker, vice president of research and consulting in TransUnion’s financial services business unit.

Instances of credit card delinquency and default have continually dropped over the last year, as consumers have both reduced the number of accounts they have in their names, as well as the spending they do on those cards.