Many people in California are struggling under a significant debt burden that they may find themselves unable to repay. This is reflected in statistics in the credit-card industry that show that the rate of bad debt is climbing for people across the country. The rate of charge-offs, loans that the credit card companies have declared that they never expect to collect, rose to its highest level in nearly seven years in the first quarter of 2019. The figure rose to 3.82 percent, marking the largest share of unrepayable loans since the second quarter of 2012. This came together with statistics showing that loans 30 days past due also increased at the seven largest credit card companies.
Credit card executives said that these problems could increase as more customers with serious financial problems during the crisis of 2008 have their old issues wiped from their credit reports. Others pointed to ongoing issues in the economy, including increased job precarity. The problems were seen across card issuers; Capital One said that its charge-off rate rose to 5.04 percent from 4.64 percent, while Discover said that its rate increased to 3.5 percent from 3.23 percent one quarter earlier. Some credit card companies said that they may take a more conservative approach to lending as a result of the figures.
At the same time, credit card companies are spending more on marketing and rewards that induce customers to open additional lines of credit. In addition, unemployment rates remain low and charge-off rates are still far from their peaks during the financial crisis.
People may find themselves unable to repay their credit card debts after significant life changes, like a job loss, divorce or even a hospitalization that racks up medical bills. An attorney might provide information about personal bankruptcy and the options available for debt relief.