A survey has revealed that nearly half of US and Canadian bank risk professionals expect credit cards delinquencies to increase in the next six months.

As the economic recovery enters its fifth year, the study found that 44% of the North American bankers polled reckoned that debts on credit cards would rise, and 35% said that debts on car loans would also increase.

Specialists’ expectations regarding the total delinquencies on all consumer loans rose to 43%, their highest levels since the last quarter of 2011.

Dr Andrew Jennings, chief analytics officer at FICO and head of FICO Labs, explained: "This can be interpreted as a healthy sign after lenders spent much of the past five years constricting credit availability and being risk-averse.

"These numbers mean more people are gaining access to credit, but we need to keep a close eye on the risk levels of these new loans. If delinquencies reach an uncomfortable level, we may see lenders pull back again."

On the other hand, the survey – conducted by the Professional Risk Managers’ International Association (PRMIA) for FICO – found that re-leveraging was likely to continue and perhaps accelerate.

It showed that 65% of bankers expected average balances on credit cards to increase over the next six months. Also, 61% of the surveyed expected the amount of new credit requested by consumers to rise.

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