Despite high household debt levels and slowing growth, Fitch Ratings says that it expects Canadian credit card performance to hold up.
In a new report, the rating agency indicates that, while there are signs pointing to slower economic growth in Canada are materializing lately, it says that they are “not enough to penetrate the strong performance of credit card bonds”.
“Canadian consumers are facing higher household debt burdens primarily tied to rapidly rising mortgage borrowing and disappointing productivity growth,” said Fitch managing director, Michael Dean. “That said, credit card portfolios have and are expected to remain largely unscathed.”
The overriding reason for strong credit card performance in Canada, Fitch says, is that Canadian consumers take on much less credit card debt compared to the U.S. For one thing, it notes, Canadians hold an average of two cards per household compared with six in the U.S. Additionally, more Canadian credit card borrowers repay their balances in full each month, it says.
Moreover, while consumer debt levels in Canada are climbing, Fitch says that credit cards still account for just over 5% of total household debt compared with 20% in the U.S. This has led to exceptional performance for Canadian credit card asset-backed securities (ABS).
“Most Canadians have long cultivated a conscientious and responsible attitude toward the use of credit to strengthen their financial profiles,” said Dean.
“Card delinquency and loss rates are down significantly from peak levels while payment rates remain high, often exceeding 35%,” added Fitch director, Herman Poon.
The rating agency’s outlook for the Canadian credit card sector remains stable. And, it also expects Canadian credit card ABS issuance to remain steady at $3 billion to $4 billion in 2015.