Credit Card Delinquencies are on the Upswing

A growing number of Americans are falling behind on their monthly credit card payments, a trend that may be a harbinger of economic troubles ahead, according to a new report from Wells Fargo.

Findings from the bank indicate that credit card delinquencies are surging among commercial banks – particularly at small lenders. In fact, late credit card payments at banks that are outside the top 100 in asset size recently surged to a record high.

The report comes amid signs that Americans are increasingly relying on their credit cards to cover everyday expenses.

The New York Federal Reserve reported earlier in August that total credit card debt surged to $1.03 trillion during the three-month period from April to June, an increase of $45 billion – or 4.6% – from the previous quarter. It marks the highest level on record in Fed data dating back to 2003.

The dual increase in credit card usage and delinquency rates is particularly concerning because  interest rates are high right now. The average credit card annual percentage rate, or APR, hit a new record of 20.63% last week, according to a Bankrate database that goes back to 1985. The previous record was 19% in July 1991.