UK credit card issuers Abbey, Barclaycard, the Co-operative Bank and Egg have agreed to start sharing data on how cardholders manage their debt.
The agreement will see the banks swapping behavioural data including how much their cardholders spend, how much they repay and changes in credit limits. The data will be shepherded through the main UK credit reference agencies - Experian, Equifax and Callcredit.
The financial services industry has shared data about customers who have fallen behind on payments since the late 1980s. Most banks now also exhange other details, such as customers' outstanding balances and borrowing limits.
But the latest move follows earlier criticism from MPs over banks' failure to share credit histories to prevent people racking up greater debts.
Barclaycard says it is now working with Apacs to get other credit card issuers signed up to the initiative. It says a number of organisations have already expressed strong support in principle, including the UK's Nationwide and MBNA.
Gary Hoffman, chief executive at Barclaycard, says: "This move will improve our ability to make good lending decisions. Whether it's a customer applying for a card or asking for an increased credit limit, the better the information we have access to, the better chance we have of getting the decision right.
"Delivering improved data sharing is an important step and we look forward to working with others, as they follow this lead. We now need to ensure that we use the information effectively, to make a real difference and to get decisions right on behalf of our customers and our business."
Halifax says it will also join the initiative to extend the amount of data that credit providers share.
The bank says any improvement in the data made available by lenders to each other is a positive move for lenders and consumers alike.