Banks' quarterly profits to fuel spring credit card deals

By , CardRatings contributor
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With risk in consumer lending markets shifting from credit card issuers to student loan balances, industry analysts expect some strong credit card deals through the spring and summer months. According to analysts at financial website StockCall.com, Capital One and American Express both posted quarterly charge-off rates lower than those of the same period last year. Although the analysts suggested that the companies could use their excess cash to fuel a stock buyback, they told subscribers to their online newsletter that underwriters would more likely use the funds to offer more credit cards for average credit over the next year.

Wells Fargo ready for shift from mortgages to credit cards

Likewise, strength in the retail banking sector has propelled new credit card offers from neighborhood branches. Wells Fargo reported a significant gain in quarterly earnings, prompted by strong performance in its home loan portfolio. In a company press release, Chief Financial Officer Tim Sloan announced that the bank's charge-off rate dropped to nearly 1 percent. However, analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswire noted that a weaker mortgage pipeline could force Wells Fargo to refocus its marketing efforts on other personal finance products, especially consumer credit cards. Wells Fargo already offers a low-cost, secured credit card for customers with linked checking and savings accounts.

Student loan balances soar, leaving grads with inability to pay credit cards

Consumers still face significant risk from their increased exposure to student loan balances, according to researchers from FICO Labs. The company that develops credit scoring algorithms warned that new graduates carry significantly higher student loan balances than students who finished degree programs a few years ago. With a tight job market, recent graduates may face challenges earning salaries that can keep pace with standard repayment schedules. The situation creates a paradox for lenders, who have the free cash flow to offer credit cards for limited credit at a time when many first-time applicants cannot meet federal standards for their ability to repay balances.

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