Credit card issuer quarterly scorecard: improved credit quality; volume growth; lending declines

In the latest quarterly financials, the leading U.S. credit card issuers displayed consistent trends in credit quality, purchase volumes and card loans.

  • Credit quality: issuers continued to report strong yearly and quarterly declines in charge-off rates.  The current rate of decline, as well as the high rates of decline in delinquency rates, indicate that charge-off rates will fall further in the next few quarters.

  • Purchase volume: All leading credit card issuers are growing purchase volumes year-on-year, with four issuers reporting double-digit volume growth. In addition, issuers like Chase and Capital One have accelerated volume growth in recent quarters.  In 1Q11, Citi reported a small y/y rise of 0.3%, which followed a protracted period of volume decline.  The 7 issuers listed in the chart had a combined $321 billion in purchase volume, up 9% y/y.


  • Average Outstandings: Although issuers have been effective in growing purchase volume, average outstandings for all leading issuers continued to decline year-on-year in 1Q11.  The 8 issuers combined for $515 billion in average outstandings in the quarter, down 18% from 1Q10.  The rate of decline slowed in 1Q11, with combined outstandings for the 8 issuers down 1.4% from 4Q10.  And Discover reported 1.7% quarterly growth in average outstandings.  Many issuers have reported that they expected outstandings to grow in the second half of 2010.

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