US banks seem to be having a Goldilocks moment with their credit card portfolios.
Spending is up — partly due to inflation and partly due to the fact that consumers are still embracing travel and dining out as the pandemic continues to recede — and that means the fees they collect from merchants each time a customer swipes their cards are also up.
Customers are also finally borrowing again after spending the past few years diligently paying off balances. That comes just as the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates, bolstering the net interest income these banks collect. But because consumers are still sitting on so much cash, delinquencies remain freakishly low.
At Bank of America Corp., which reported third-quarter earnings Monday, spending on cards soared 13%, and the average outstanding balances were up 12.4%. The company added 1.25 million new credit card accounts in the quarter, the most of any quarter in at least the last year.
But it didn't look like the bank is widening its credit underwriting standards in any meaningful way — the average FICO scores for the portfolio were actually higher at 770.
Bank of America also gave an interesting metric for cards called "risk-adjusted margin" — basically a measure of profitability that takes into account how much risk the bank is taking on for every dollar of revenue.
That's down to 10.07% compared to a year ago, though it's up slightly from the 9.95% at the end of the second quarter.
For more on Bank of America third-quarter earnings, click here for our TOPLive blog.