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Credit card delinquency ticks up as inflation tests consumer resilience

Delinquency rates at the major U.S. credit card issuers continued to rise in September, with consumers' resilience tested by elevated inflation despite spending remaining strong.

The total average delinquency rate for American Express Co., Bank of America Corp., Capital One Financial Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Discover Financial Services was 0.86% in September, compared to 0.82% in August, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis.

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Borrowing normalizes

Delinquency rates rose for all the major credit card issuers in September, and some in the industry suggested consumer borrowing was normalizing, even though levels remain well below pre-pandemic numbers.

Capital One had the highest month-over-month rise in delinquency rate in September at 1.11%, compared to 1.03% in August. Discover Financial was second with a 5-basis-point increase to 1.12%.

"I think we're in an environment where it's kind of odd, which is very strong consumer spend," JPMorgan Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon said during the latest earnings call. "Credit card borrowing is normalizing, not getting worse. You might see — and that's really good. So you go in to recession, you've got a very strong consumer."

JPMorgan's credit card delinquency rate was 0.69%, 3 bps higher than in August.

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NCOs muted

The group average annualized net loss rate at the major credit card issuers was down one bps to 1.04% in September from August, but it was 10 bps higher year over year.

Net charge-off rates for the card issuers were mixed during September, with American Express, Bank of America and Capital One having an uptick while Citigroup and Discover Financial dipped compared with the previous month. JPMorgan's net charge-off in September was unchanged at 1.15%.

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Portfolio yield edges lower

The average master trust portfolio yield for major credit card issuers fell 25 bps to 22.29% in September, compared to 22.54% in August.

Portfolio yields for all but American Express and JPMorgan nudged lower during the month. American Express posted the biggest year-over-year increase in portfolio yield with a 147-bps jump to 29.11% in September, 23 bps higher than in August. JPMorgan's portfolio yield followed, increasing 35 bps to 22.35%.

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