Making car payment takes priority, study finds

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(AP) NEW YORK - The recession and its hangover may have turned bill-paying habits upside down. A study shows that cash-strapped Americans are paying off their car loans before they pay credit card bills or make mortgage payments.

TransUnion, a credit information company, studied the payment patterns of 4 million Americans with at least one car loan, one credit card and a mortgage. It found a clear priority for staying current on the car loan.

TransUnion says when it first took the study in 2006, the mortgage was the priority.

Ezra Becker is the company's vice president of research and consulting. He says people need a car to get to a job or look for a job, and in a tough economy, that has flipped peoples' priorities.