Consumers paying credit card over mortgage

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- When faced with a financial crisis, consumers more often are opting to pay their credit-card bills first before turning to their mortgage payments, according to a report released by Trans Union Wednesday.

In the past, strapped consumers typically would let their credit cards slide and make sure their mortgages were covered, said Sean Reardon, the study's author and a consultant at the Chicago-based credit bureau. But those priorities flipped in the first quarter of 2008, according to the study, and the trend has been picking up steam.

In fact, 6.6% of consumers were delinquent on their mortgages, but current on their credit cards in the third quarter of 2009, according to the most recent data available. Meanwhile, just 3.6% were behind on their credit cards and current on their mortgages.

Why the change? A "perfect storm" of deteriorating housing prices and rising unemployment is likely the reason, Reardon said. It's much easier for consumers to walk away from mortgage payments when their homes aren't building equity, he said, than to neglect their credit cards when that may be the only way they're covering daily expenses.

Just two years earlier, in the third quarter of 2007, the situation was reversed: 3.95% of consumers were delinquent on their mortgages, and current on their credit cards, while 4.6% were behind on their credit cards and current on their mortgages.

In California and Florida -- two of the states hit hardest by the burst housing bubble -- consumers were even more likely to pay their credit cards before their mortgages.

In California, 10.2% were delinquent on their mortgages but current on their credit cards in the third quarter of 2009, vs. 2.7% in the reverse situation. In Florida, 12.4% were behind on their mortgages and current on their credit cards, compared to 3.9% in the opposite situation.

Trans Union conducted the study among consumers that had at least one credit card and one mortgage, and examined 30-day credit card and mortgage delinquency data between the second quarter of 2008 and the third quarter of 2009.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,039.49 60.36 0.36%
Nasdaq 4,532.10 5.62 0.12%
S&P 500 1,992.37 5.86 0.29%
Treasuries 2.41 -0.02 -0.78%
Data as of 6:06pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.16 0.64 4.12%
eBay Inc 55.89 2.49 4.66%
Hewlett-Packard Co 37.00 1.88 5.35%
Intel Corp 35.15 0.65 1.88%
Apple Inc 100.58 0.01 0.01%
Data as of 4:03pm ET

Sections

Russian officials have shut four McDonald's restaurants in Moscow, including the first to open in the city nearly 25 years ago at the end of the Cold War. More

The Heartbleed bug is to blame for the hospital hack that stole 4.5 milliion patient records. If true, brace yourself for similar, mega data breaches. More

This Canadian startup founder faced the threat of deportation because he was on the wrong visa. Problem is -- there's no startup visa for entrepreneurs. More

This month, Delaware became the first state to pass a law giving heirs the right to access the online accounts and assets of someone who has passed away. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.