Volumes for Leading Card Issuers Are Recovering

In their most recent quarterly financials, the leading U.S. credit card issuers continued to show improvement in spending volumes. Credit card volumes were significantly hit in 2009, as consumers pulled back on discretionary spending, and as credit card issuers retrenched and reduced account numbers.

The following chart shows that most leading issuers returned to year-on-year growth in credit card volume in 2010, and that the rate of growth has steadily improved.

The reasons for the recent improvement in card volume are:

  • Overall economic recovery, with corresponding growth in consumer spending
  • Issuers’ promotion of card spending as a source of revenue, in particular as outstandings growth has been largely absent

A number of card issuers recently predicted that card outstandings should grow in the second half of 2011, but we expect that issuers will continue to push card volume, and aim for a good balance between spending and lending.

Bank card issuers continue to improve credit quality metrics

4Q10 financial results for the leading bank card issuers showed that they are continuing to improve charge-off and delinquency rates. In fact, these rates are now beginning to return to normalized levels, which should mean that issuers will now turn attention to driving revenue growth, which has declined significantly over the past two years.

The following are 4Q10 charge-off rates for the leading U.S. bank card issuers (as reported in company financials):

Issuer 4Q10 Charge-Off Rate Y/Y Change Q/Q Change
SunTrust 5.65% -286 bps -116 bps
U.S. Bank 6.65% -24 bps -46 bps
PNC 7.05% -198 bps +64 bps
Chase (legacy Chase) 7.08% -156 bps -98 bps
Fifth Third 7.12% -169 bps -56 bps
Capital One 7.28% -231 bps -95 bps
Wells Fargo 8.21% -240 bps -85 bps
Bank of America 8.24% -364 bps -88 bps
Citi (Citi-Branded Cards-North America)


– 50 bps -102 bps