Credit card standards eased for some of the nation’s top 16 lenders for the first time since 2008, as 25 percent reported that their underwriting requirements fell in the 12-month period that ended February 28, 2011, according to the latest annual study from the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. It was also the largest increase in relaxed standards since at least 2002.
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“For the first time since the 2008 survey, 25 percent of banks offering credit cards have eased their underwriting standards, primarily in response to changes in economic outlook, the competitive environment, market strategy and regulatory policy,” the study’s authors wrote. “The principal methods of easing credit card underwriting standards were reducing score card cutoffs and increasing maximum line size.”
However, despite the improved lending conditions, many banks were still feeling guarded, the report said. Another 31 percent saw their standards unchanged, while the remaining 44 percent actually increased them.
All of the nation’s top credit card lenders have seen instances of delinquency and default slip over the last year, leading to higher profits. However, some experts warn that these declines were the result of previous charge offs, and many borrowers no longer being able to get a new line of credit despite relaxed lending standards.
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