If you're having trouble making your credit card payments, you're not alone.
According to The American Bankers Associated, nearly 5% of credit card accounts were thirty days or more past due during the third quarter of 2005.
Although the precise rate is down slightly: 4.74% during that period versus 4.81% during the previous three months, the current figures reflect the third-highest rate of delinquencies on record.
A combination of factors had made it difficult for many consumers to keep their credit accounts current.
Record-high gas prices increased consumer expenses directly and in rising retail costs.
At the same time, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates 13 times over an 18 month period.
That rate in turn increases the prime lending rate, which determines the interest rates for millions of personal and business loans and credit accounts.
Although falling gas prices may have some positive impact, other problems remain.
Residual effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita are expected to stretch into the spring of 2006.
The impact of those disasters isn't reflected at all in these numbers, which include only accounts that were thirty days past due between July and September, 2005.
In addition, many economists expect yet another hike in interest rates at the end of January.
These factors, combined with the increase in minimum credit card payments that will take effect in early 2006, may push increasing numbers of consumers who have been struggling to keep accounts current into delinquency.