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New-to-Credit Consumers May Be Better Risk Than Previously Thought

First time credit users, also known as new-to-credit (NTC) consumers, have been found to be just as much as a risk as consumers with an established credit history—if not a little better—according to new data from the credit bureau, TransUnion. 

According to a global study entitled “Empowering Credit Inclusion: A Deeper Perspective on New-to-Credit Consumers” gives reassuring hard data to lenders in both the established and developing credit markets so they can extend additional credit products to these consumers without a corresponding rise in delinquency rates. 

Covering not only the U.S., but Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, India, Philippines, and South Africa, the study focused on subjects who had no prior credit history with the bureau when they opened their first-ever line of credit and continued examining their behaviors and performances for the following two years. 

“A particular focus around the topic of financial inclusion is credit inclusion — the ability of consumers to access traditional lending products, such as credit cards, mortgages and personal loans. These products serve as a means to financial mobility for consumers and can be a gateway to a better quality of life, enabling homeownership, business formation and wealth creation,” said Charlie Wise, Co-Author of the study and Head of Global Research at TransUnion. “The more consumers who can participate in credit markets in a region, the greater the opportunities for broad economic inclusion. The data from our study demonstrate that new-to-credit consumers are often good risks who are hungry for credit and will show loyalty to those financial institutions that offer them their first credit accounts.” 

In the U.S. alone, 5.8 million consumers opened their first-ever line of credit in 2021, made up largely of the Gen Z generation at 59%, followed by Millennials at 21%, Gex X at 12%, followed by 7% of Baby Boomers. The study found overall that these consumers were generally good risks when compared to a counterpart with an established file. 

The study also found that the most common type of credit line NTC consumers took out was a credit card, not only in the U.S. but in the other countries as well. 

“In nearly every region, depending on risk tier or time period of origination, instances occurred in which NTC borrowers had lower delinquency rates on newly-opened credit cards than established borrowers,” said the study. “In the U.S., on subsequent credit card originations after opening their first account, NTC consumers had slightly higher delinquency rates than credit-served consumers in the same near prime and prime score ranges, though the differences are small enough to make the NTC segment a potentially attractive segment for lenders looking for profitable growth.” 

Further, the study found that new and unforeseen expenses were the primary driver for opening a line of credit. A majority of NTC consumers across all regions, with the exception of India, reported receiving a credit product at the first institution where they applied — without needing to go to multiple lenders. In the U.S., 54% of NTC borrowers reported receiving a credit product from the first institution where they applied. 

“It’s clear that new-to-credit borrowers around the globe and in the United States will play a large role in the growth of many lenders’ books of business,” said Michele Raneri, co-author of the study and head of U.S. research at TransUnion. “Banks, credit unions and other financial institutions who use alternative data while providing products, channels and a positive onboarding process, will likely be the ones who succeed in building loyalty with this segment of the population.” 

About Author: Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at [email protected].

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