Are credit cards the next subprime catastrophe?


Although consumer rates of credit card delinquency are at record levels, credit card exposure will not be a problem on the scale of subprime mortgages. But that's not to say that credit cards are not in trouble, because they are.

Fitch's Prime Credit Card Delinquency Index measures credit card debt more than 60 days late. Through January 2009 that index surged to a record 4.04 percent, exceeding the 3.75 percent record set in December 2008. And in the previous three months, the index climbed 23 percent, putting the index 30 percent above historical averages.