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Fitch Reports Credit Card Defaults Hit 16-month Low

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Consumers continue to reduce their credit card debt, report shows Credit card defaults in the U.S. continue to decline, proving that more consumers are improving their spending habits and paying off their outstanding balances.

The latest Fitch Ratings Credit Card Index shows that July's default rate dropped to a 16-month low. The rate for outstanding payments 60 or more days overdue fell 10 basis points, dropping to 3.76 percent. Early stage delinquencies - late payments 30 days or more overdue - also declined to 5 percent, marking the fifth consecutive month the rate has dropped.

"The trends are encouraging, but card defaults are still elevated historically and are expected to remain so," Fitch managing director Michael Dean said. "Unemployment will continue to weigh on consumer credit quality throughout the rest of this year and well into 2011."

More consumers who have found themselves seriously delinquent on credit card, mortgage or student loan payments have sought debt relief through credit counseling services, which allows them to work with financial professionals and explore their options. Credit counseling also provides education resources on budgeting, reducing debt and overcoming financial hardships.

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New government regulations in place for consumers in need of debt relief for credit cards and other unsecured debts.

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