US credit card delinquency rates hit record highs in Q4 2023, signaling financial stress for consumers.

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The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s report reveals alarming trends, with almost 3.5% of card balances overdue by at least 30 days, the highest on record. This surge in delinquencies, coupled with rising minimum payments and increased credit card balances, underscores the growing financial strain on US households.

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Almost 3.5% of card balances were at least 30 days past due as of the end of December, the Philadelphia Fed said. That’s the highest figure in the data series going back to 2012, and up by about 30 basis points from the previous quarter. The share of debts that are 60 and 90 days late also climbed.

“Stress among cardholders was further underscored in payment behavior, as the share of accounts making minimum payments rose 34 basis points to a series high,” according to the report.

Nominal credit card balances set a new series high and card utilization also rose, as consumers stretched credit lines further. Inflation-adjusted credit card balances remained below fourth-quarter 2019 levels.

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The numbers signal added pressure on US household finances amid higher costs of living. About 10% of credit-card borrowers now have an account balance that exceeds $5,200, according to the Philadelphia Fed. One-quarter of active accounts have a balance of over $2,000 for the first time.

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