Want to know some good news about the state of credit card debt in America? Well, it's less than a trillion dollars in value. The bad news is that it's pretty darn close -- $920 billion, according to a recent Federal Reserve estimate.
Here are some more scary numbers, from an Associated Press report.
- According to an AP study of 17 large credit card trusts, the value of credit card bills overdue by at least 30 days surged by a whopping 26% between this past October and the previous one. The cards in question came from the likes of Bank of America
, Capital One (NYSE: BAC) , Home Depot (NYSE: COF) , and Wal-Mart (NYSE: HD) . (NYSE: WMT)
- The greatest increase in debt levels was for accounts more than 90 days late.
- Defaults, representing debt that lenders no longer expect to be repaid, advanced 18%, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. According to the AP, lenders such as Advanta
, GE's (Nasdaq: ADVNB) Money Bank, and HSBC (NYSE: GE) reported increases over last year of 50% or more in accounts that were at least 90 days delinquent. (NYSE: HBC)
Many expect the picture to get even worse. After all, part of the problem is the subprime-lending crisis, which hasn't exactly disappeared yet. As more homeowners find themselves facing huge mortgage-payment increases, credit card debt is likely to climb and eventually lead to increased defaults. On top of that, the holiday season has just passed, and we know that many Americans charged lots of presents. That's sure to increase our debt levels, too.
Profit from a bad situation
Depressing though this situation may be, it's not bad news for everybody. After all, the companies issuing credit-card loans still stand to make a lot of money. (Lots of borrowers have had their interest rates raised to 30% or beyond ... that probably has something to do with it.) Learn about why you might want to invest in financial companies:
And meanwhile, if you're deep in debt, drop by our Credit Center, where you can learn how to dig yourself out, or get yourself inspired by reading "My $45,000 Mistake." Debt may be daunting, but paying it off isn't impossible. It can be done!
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Home Depot, General Electric, and Wal-Mart. Bank of America is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Home Depot and Wal-Mart are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Try any of our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.