Consumers who want more power to deal with credit card debt were likely able to find it last year as a result of slackening underwriting standards for the nation’s largest lenders.
Last year, credit qualifications broadened for 35 percent of the 20 major financial institutions that issued credit cards, according to the latest Annual Survey of Credit Underwriting Practices issued by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Another 50 percent said they held their standards steady, and only 15 percent actually tightened them.
It was generally the improving economic conditions seen nationwide that prompted lenders to once again begin broadening qualifications for credit cads, the report said.
“Examiners attributed the easing of standards to changes in economic outlook, product performance, competitive environment, risk appetite, and market strategy,” the report said. “The primary methods used for easing credit underwriting standards were changes in pricing and fees, scorecard cutoffs, and debt-to-income ratios.”
Consumers seeking debt relief have generally been more conscientious about paying down their outstanding balances since the end of the recession, leading to all-time record lows in instances of both delinquency and default.