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Exploring the Latest Credit Trends

With consumer credit performance maintaining healthy levels across mortgage, auto, credit card, and personal loans, lenders continued to ramp up new account origination growth in the non-prime segment of the market near the end of 2021. TransUnion’s newly released Q4 2021 Quarterly Credit Industry Insights Report (CIIR) found that loans to non-prime borrowers increased while accounts originated during the pandemic in 2020 continued to perform as well or better when compared to loans from previous years. 

Despite recent upticks in mortgage delinquencies in the most recent quarter, serious delinquency rates also remained near or below pre-pandemic levels in the wake of expired forbearance programs, which has continued to restore lender confidence. Borrower-level 60+ days past due (DPD) delinquencies for personal loans saw a seasonal uptick in Q4 2021 to 3.00%, remaining well below the 3.48% observed before the pandemic in Q4 2019. The borrower-level 90+ DPD for credit card reflects a similar trend and reached 1.48% in Q4 2021, and remains well below the 2.19% delinquency rate in Q4 2019. 

“As the economy continues to recover and consumer credit health remains strong, lenders will likely continue to extend access to credit across the risk spectrum, including non-prime consumers, and origination volumes are expected to grow,” said Wise. “Credit growth is also likely to be bolstered as consumers return to credit markets in the wake of government stimulus programs during the pandemic, which injected excess liquidity into the consumer wallets. As this excess liquidity wanes, we expect to see consumer credit demand return to more normal patterns.” 

The credit card market saw a high rate of new account growth in Q3 2021 with a record 20.1 million originations, 9.0 million of which were to non-prime consumers. Overall card originations in the quarter grew 63% year-over-year, while non-prime originations increased 75% from the 5.1 million non-prime originations that occurred in Q3 2020. 

“There was a great deal of uncertainty in the initial months of the pandemic, and many lenders opted to take a wait and see approach. Adding to the uncertainty was the jump in consumers in loan accommodation programs, and questions on how those consumers would perform once they exited those programs. Lending to below prime consumers was suppressed and financial institutions turned their focus to the prime areas of the market to help mitigate risk,” said Charlie Wise, Senior VP of Research and Consulting at TransUnion.  

Supply issues have impacted sales volume in the auto industry, and consequently, auto originations have stayed relatively low. However, overall originations were heightened by the below prime segment, which grew from 2.3 million in Q3 2020, to 2.4 million in Q3 2021. The mortgage industry saw a surge in growth throughout the pandemic with high levels of originations several quarters in a row due to the low interest rate environment. While non-prime consumers account for a fraction of all originations, the non-prime risk segment has also seen recent growth, with an increase of 17.6% YoY in Q3 2021, despite overall originations falling 12.6% in that same period. 

“Toward the end of 2021, the majority of accommodation programs have expired, and lenders have seen that consumers continue to perform well on their credit obligations. Lenders are eager to pursue growth, including expanding back into the non-prime consumer segment.” 

For more information about the report, please register for the Q4 2021 Quarterly Credit Industry Insights Report Webinar, or click here. 

About Author: Demetria Lester

Demetria C. Lester is a reporter for DS News and MReport magazines with more than eight years' writing experience. She has served as content coordinator and copy editor for the Los Angeles Daily News, the Orange County Register, in addition to 11 other Southern California publications. A former editor-in-chief at Northlake College and staff writer at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, she has covered events such as the Byron Nelson and Pac-12 Conferences, progressing into her freelance work with the Dallas Wings and D Magazine. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, Lester is a jazz aesthete and loves to read. She can be reached at [email protected]

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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