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ABA: The American Bankers Association
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ABA Report Consumer Delinquencies Rose in Fourth Quarter of 2020

WASHINGTON —

After two consecutive quarters of declines, consumer credit delinquencies rose in the fourth quarter of 2020 as the toll of the pandemic-induced recession weighed on the economy, according to results from the American Bankers Association’s Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin. Overall, delinquencies rose in each of the 11 loan categories tracked by ABA.

The composite ratio, which tracks delinquencies in eight closed-end installment loan categories, rose 55 basis points in the fourth quarter to 2.39% of all accounts. (See Historical Data). The ABA report defines a delinquency as a late payment that is 30 days or more overdue.

“Delinquencies rose late last year as high COVID-19 infection rates and elevated unemployment levels wore on many consumers who had already used the first round of stimulus payments to pay down existing debt,” said ABA Senior Economist Rob Strand. “Many of those consumers have received additional support since then. The stimulus payments in December and the even larger payments consumers received this spring will go a long way toward helping people meet their debt obligations, and both the job market and broader economy continue to improve.”

Delinquencies in bank cards (credit cards issued by banks) remained near all-time low levels despite rising 12 basis points to 1.65% of all accounts in the fourth quarter.

“Consumers have done a good job of managing their spending throughout the pandemic and paid down their credit card balances at a record pace last year,” Strand said. “As online purchases surged during COVID-19, consumers continued to prioritize their credit card payments. At the same time, card issuers have worked with customers who have experienced economic challenges related to the pandemic.” (See Economic Charts)

Delinquencies in all three home-related categories rose in the fourth quarter. Home equity line of credit delinquencies rose 43 basis points to 1.63% of all accounts. Home equity loan delinquencies rose 165 basis points to 5.82% of all accounts. Property improvement loan delinquencies ticked up 10 basis points to 1.20% in the fourth quarter after declining in both the second and third quarters.

Delinquencies in direct auto loans (those arranged directly through a bank) rose 37 basis points to 2.05% of all accounts in Q4 after falling 34 basis points combined in the second and third quarters. Delinquencies in indirect auto loans (those arranged through a third party such as an auto dealer) rose 40 basis points to 2.49% of all accounts in the fourth quarter after falling 125 basis points combined in the second and third quarters. They remain below the category’s pre-COVID level of 2.56% in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Credit quality is expected to improve as the economic recovery gains momentum in 2021. Last month, ABA’s Credit Conditions Outlook report found that the chief economists from North America’s largest banks anticipate substantial improvement in both consumer and business credit market conditions over the next six months.

“As the unemployment rate trends downward and more people get vaccinated, the economy will continue picking up steam,” Strand said. “We expect delinquencies to return to lower levels as the recovery gains ground and household incomes stabilize. Bank economists are optimistic about the outlook for consumer credit quality and availability in the months ahead, which bodes well for delinquencies.”

The fourth quarter composite ratio is made up of the following eight closed-end loans. All figures are seasonally adjusted based upon the number of accounts.

CLOSED-END LOANS

  • Composite Ratio rose from 1.84% in Q3 2020 to 2.39% in Q4.
    • Direct auto loan delinquencies rose from 1.68% in Q3 2020 to 2.05% in Q4.
    • Home equity loan delinquencies rose from 4.17% in Q3 2020 to 5.82% in Q4.
    • Indirect auto loan delinquencies rose from 2.09% in Q3 2020 to 2.49% in Q4.
    • Marine loan delinquencies rose from 0.69% in Q3 2020 to 0.95% in Q4.
    • Mobile home delinquencies rose from 2.53% in Q3 2020 to 3.01% in Q4.
    • Personal loan delinquencies rose from 0.93% in Q3 2020 to 1.72% in Q4.
    • Property improvement loan delinquencies rose from 1.10% in Q3 2020 to 1.20% in Q4.
    • RV loan delinquencies rose from 1.01% in Q3 2020 to 1.37% in Q4.

In addition, ABA tracks three open-end loan categories:

OPEN-END LOANS

  • Bank card delinquencies rose from 1.53% in Q3 2020 to 1.65% in Q4.
  • Home equity lines of credit delinquencies rose from 1.20%.in Q3 2020 to 1.63% in Q4.
  • Non-card revolving loan delinquencies rose from 0.49% in Q3 2020 to 4.92% in Q4.

Consumer Tips

For borrowers having trouble paying down debts, ABA advises taking action -- sooner rather than later -- to solve debt problems. Proven tips are listed below. Additional consumer information on budgeting, saving, managing credit and more is available at ABA.com/Consumers.

  • Contact Consumer Credit Counseling Services at 1-800-388-2227;
  • Talk with creditors – the sooner you talk to them, the more options you have; and
  • Don’t charge more purchases until your problems are solved.

Glossary

Indirect auto loan: loan arranged through a third party such as an auto dealer.

Direct auto loan: loan arranged directly through a bank.

Delinquency: late payment that is 30 days or more overdue.

Bank card: a credit card provided by a bank.

Closed-end loan: a loan for a fixed amount of money with a fixed repayment period and regularly scheduled payments.

Open-end loan: a loan with a fixed amount of available credit but a balance that fluctuates depending on usage such as a line of credit.

Non-card revolving loan: an unsecured, open-end loan that is not linked to a credit card. Examples may include lines of credit for overdraft protection or check credit.

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About the American Bankers Association

The American Bankers Association is the voice of the nation’s $21.9 trillion banking industry, which is composed of small, regional and large banks that together employ more than 2 million people, safeguard $17 trillion in deposits and extend nearly $11 trillion in loans.

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