A study by the credit bureau Experian reveals borrowers with credit scores of 620 or lower are more likely to be behind on their mortgage payments than their credit card bills — a departure from historic norms.

Borrowers with prime credit scores above 680 are still paying off their mortgages before their credit cards, the study found.

Experian says the mortgage delinquency rate for subprime consumers has grown at 13.2 percent over the past four years, while the rate of credit card delinquencies has declined.

The percentage of subprime borrowers who are late 30 days or more on their mortgage payments has risen from around .3 percent in the first quarter of 2003 to more than .35 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006, Experian found. During the same period, the percentage of subprime borrowers behind on their credit card payments by 30 days or more has dropped from more than .3 percent to less than .25 percent.

“Our data revealed that many consumers in the subprime segment have adjusted their payment patterns in order to better manage their personal finances,” said Kerry Williams, president, Experian Information Solutions group, in a statement accompanying the release of the study.

Delinquencies are up for both credit cards and mortgage in the last year of the study, however, with the sharpest upswing in Western states, where growth in delinquencies totaled 15.3 percent for mortgages and 6.4 percent for credit cards.

Between 2005 and 2006, outstanding mortgage balances for subprime consumers increased 8.8 percent, while total outstanding mortgage balances grew only by 3.3 percent

Over the past four years, Experian found credit card lending to subprime consumers has risen by 137 percent, while mortgage lending to subprime consumers grew by 58 percent.

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