Late payments on credit cards near historic lows

The number of people behind on their credit card payments keeps falling. According to the credit reporting agency TransUnion, it’s at its lowest level in nearly 20 years.

Wonder why? Let’s play a little Family Feud:

ANNOUNCER: Name the reasons people are more likely to pay their credit card bills on time.


ANNOUNCER: Greg McBride from

GREG MCBRIDE: The improving economy.

ANNOUNCER: Show me “improving economy”...


ANNOUNCER: Nice, Greg. When the economy improves, more people have more work and more money to pay their bills.

And, now, John Ulzheimer from, we’re looking for the reasons people are more likely to pay their credit card bills on time

JOHN ULZHEIMER: Reduced balances.

ANNOUNCER: People carrying less debt on their credit cards, making it easier for them to stay current. Show me “reduced balances.”


ANNOUNCER: Good work, John. And now to Ezra Becker from TransUnion. Do you have an answer for us?

EZRA BECKER: Prioritizing cards.

ANNOUNCER: Prioritizing cards, huh? Before the recession people were more likely to pay their mortgages first; today they are paying their credit card bills first.

EZRA BECKER: If you stop paying their credit cards, in three months they will close your account and you won’t have access to it. If you stop paying your mortgage, foreclosure time periods are upwards of a year.

ANNOUNCER: OK, show me "paying credit card bills first."


ANNOUNCER: And number 4 on our list when we asked why people are more likely to pay their credit card bills on time?


ANNOUNCER: Less credit available.


That’ll do it for this round. Thanks for playing!

About the author

Adriene Hill is a correspondent covering the business of entertainment.


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