Top Issuers End Year with No Growth

The top four issuers of Visa and MasterCards, posted an annual gain of only +0.2%. In addition to extraordinarily weak holiday spending and lower fuel prices, growth was dampened by proactive risk management actions such as tighter credit standards, reduced credit lines and closed inactive accounts.

BofA, Chase, Citi and Cap One reported $510 billion in year-end credit card outstandings, compared to $509 billion for year-end 2007. Chase posted the strongest gain of 3.6%, excluding its recently acquired WaMu portfolio. (WaMu outstandings were $28.3 billion for year-end 2008.) BofA was down 0.8% to $182.2 billion, including about $20 billion in non-U.S. cards. Citi’s outstanding declined 3.6% to $95.1 billion and Capital One inched up by 1.7% to $70.9 billion.

Overall, the average credit card balance per carded household ended 2008 at $10,728 with a median per household of $7,066.

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