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As Black Friday Nears, a Record 196 Million Consumers Now Have Access to Various Forms of Credit Cards and Other Revolving Lines of Credit

New Q3 2017 TransUnion Industry Insights Report reveals latest consumer credit trends

With the holiday shopping season officially kicking off during Black Friday next week, TransUnion’s (NYSE: TRU) just released Q3 2017 Industry Insights Report found that 195.9 million consumers now have access to revolving credit such as bank-issued and private label credit cards. According to the report, powered by PramaSM analytics, this is the highest level of revolving credit access since TransUnion began measuring the variable and is greater than the 192.6 million consumers who had access to such credit products in Q3 2016.

TransUnion also found that, as of Q3 2017, a record 142.5 million consumers had a balance on non-revolving loans. This is up from 140.1 million in Q3 2016. Non-revolving loans are primarily comprised of auto loans, mortgages, student loans and unsecured personal loans.

The number of consumers with the aforementioned credit products, especially revolving lines of credit, will more than likely grow during the upcoming holiday shopping season. In November and December 2016, TransUnion found that average originations for private label credit cards doubled for online (2.00x) and discount store (1.95x) retailers compared to average monthly originations over the rest of the year (January through October)

“The third quarter of 2017 exhibited a lending market that continued to operate in a stable manner, with consumers continuing to gain access to credit and take advantage of that access,” said Ezra Becker, senior vice president and head of research and consulting for TransUnion. “However, we are beginning to see a slowdown in originations, which may be a signal of saturation in the lower-risk credit tiers and some pull-back in lender risk appetite in the higher-risk tiers.

“Despite the slowdown, we anticipate a robust holiday shopping season. The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment measure rose 4% this September compared to last, demonstrating that consumers have continued positive expectations regarding the overall economy. As a result, we expect this will lead to strong consumer credit activity during the upcoming holiday season.”

TransUnion’s analysis found that average private label card originations in the holiday season (defined as November and December) for 2016 was 148% of the average monthly originations in the January through October timeframe. This is tracking in line with recent rises observed in 2015 (156%) and 2014 (164%). “On average, consumers are about 1 ½ times more likely to open a private label credit card in the holiday season compared to any other month of the year. Much of this increase is due to the credit offers extended by retailers and their lending partners in anticipation of the shopping season,” Becker added.

Please visit TransUnion’s Industry Insights Report website for more charts and details about the Q3 2017 Industry Insights Report or to register for TransUnion's Q3 2017 Industry Insights Webinar.


Total Credit Balances Rise despite Slowdown in New Credit Card Accounts

Q3 2017 IIR Credit Card Summary

TransUnion’s Q3 2017 Industry Insights Report found that total credit card balances continued to grow on an annual basis, rising 7% to $731 billion in Q3 2017 from $683 billion in Q3 2016. MSAs experiencing the largest annual credit card debt per borrower increases included Miami (+5.5%) and Houston (+4.7%), both areas impacted by hurricanes during the month of September. Even as balances rose in those markets and elsewhere, the number of overall new credit card accounts decreased 12.1% between Q2 2016 and Q2 2017 (originations are viewed one quarter in arrears to ensure all accounts are included in the data). Q3 marked the third quarter in a row new account growth had decreased on an annual basis. While serious delinquency rates increased to 1.68% in Q3 2017 from 1.53% in Q3 2016, they remain relatively low on a historical basis and are in line with TransUnion’s forecast from last December that pointed to a year-end 1.65% delinquency rate.

Instant Analysis

“The robust increase in credit card balances is a reflection of new account growth observed in 2016. Consumers with new access to credit cards clearly used them and built balances. Not surprisingly, subprime consumers experienced the largest annual increase in serious delinquency rates, though we also observed new account balance declines in this group as well. Overall, the market is performing in line with our expectations at the beginning of the year and we do not anticipate any marked changes to this sector at the end of the year.”

  • Paul Siegfried, senior vice president and credit card business leader at TransUnion

Q3 2017 Credit Card Trends

Credit Card Lending Metric

Q3 2017

Q3 2016

Q3 2015

Q3 2014

Number of Credit Card Loans

414.3 million

398.5 million

374.2 million

361.2 million

 Borrower-Level Delinquency Rate (90+ DPD)





Average Debt Per Borrower





Prior Quarter Originations*

15.5 million

17.6 million

15.3 million

13.7 million

Average New Account Credit Lines*





*Note: Originations are viewed one quarter in arrears to account for reporting lag.

Q3 2017 Credit Card Loan Performance by Age Group


90+ DPD

Annual Pct. Change

Average Loan Balances Per Consumer

Annual Pct. Change

Gen Z (1995 – present)





Millennials (1980-1994)





Gen X (1965-1979)





Baby Boomers (1946-1964)





Silent (Until 1945)






Auto Loan Market Shifting Toward Less Risky Consumers

Q3 2017 IIR Auto Loan Summary

For the fourth consecutive quarter, auto loan originations decreased on a year-over-year basis, declining 2.2% between Q2 2016 and Q2 2017. The decline was driven by a 5.9% drop in subprime, near prime and prime loan openings. This was partially offset by a 3.2% rise in loans originated to the least risky consumers in the prime plus and super prime risk categories over the same time period. As a result of this shift, 2.3 points of market share have shifted from subprime, near prime and prime to prime plus and super prime. While overall auto loan balances rose 5.9% between Q3 2016 and Q3 2017, this marked the lowest year-over-year growth rate since Q3 2012. As balance growth slowed, serious auto loan delinquency rates (60+ DPD) rose seven basis points in the last year to close Q3 2017 at 1.40%.

Instant Analysis

“Though serious auto loan delinquency rates are slowly rising, we still do not believe this is a cause for concern. The recent uptick in delinquencies was driven primarily by ‘relaxed’ underwriting standards from recent years, which drove non-prime origination growth. The recent decline in originations is due to the tightening of underwriting requirements and the slowing demand for new vehicles. Despite fewer originations, there is evidence that more people will be opening auto loans in the near term. In September, U.S. light vehicle sales increased for the first time this year on an annual basis. Also, there will likely be several thousand new vehicles purchased as a result of the hurricanes in Florida and Texas.”

  • Brian Landau, senior vice president and automotive business leader at TransUnion

Q3 2017 Auto Loan Trends

Auto Lending Metric

Q3 2017

Q3 2016

Q3 2015

Q3 2014

Number of Auto Loans

78.6 million

74.8 million

69.8 million

64.6 million

 Borrower-Level Delinquency Rate (60+ DPD)





Average Debt Per Borrower





Prior Quarter Originations*

7.1 million

7.3 million

7.2 million

6.8 million

Average Balance

of New Auto Loans*





*Note: Originations are viewed one quarter in arrears to account for reporting lag.

Q3 2017 Auto Loan Performance by Age Group


60+ DPD

Annual Pct. Change

Average Loan Balances Per Consumer

Annual Pct. Change

Gen Z (1995 – present)





Millennials (1980-1994)





Gen X (1965-1979)





Baby Boomers (1946-1964)





Silent (Until 1945)






Mortgage Delinquency Rates Continue Extended Decline

Q3 2017 IIR Mortgage Loan Summary

The serious mortgage borrower delinquency rate (60+ DPD) declined approximately 16% on an annual basis to 1.91% at the end of Q3 2017. Year-over-year delinquency rates have consistently dropped each quarter since Q3 2010, now reaching the lowest point since the recession. The only state not to experience a yearly mortgage delinquency decline was Alaska, which continues to struggle from lower oil prices. The total number of mortgages outstanding increased by nearly 1% in the last year to 52.7 million, continuing the previous quarter’s annual growth and reversing a prior trend of yearly declines that had lasted since Q4 2014. While average mortgage debt per borrower rose to $199,417, a growth trend not broken since Q1 2005, average new account balances – measured in Q2 2017 due to reporting lag – declined by 2.4% in the last year to $224,502. The annual drop in new account balances is likely a reflection of the decline in refinance origination share from 37% in Q2 2016 to 33% in Q2 2017, per Ellie Mae, as refinance mortgages tend to be at higher balances than purchase mortgages.

Instant Analysis

“Serious mortgage delinquency rates continue to drop to new post-recession lows, indicating there may be opportunities to responsibly expand access. We did note that the shape of the delinquency trendline has been flat during the second and third quarters of 2017, suggesting that a natural floor for delinquencies might be forming. However, a similar period of flat delinquencies occurred between the second and fourth quarters of 2016, before they once again began to decline. A higher interest rate environment and market saturation have negatively impacted refinance market share, and we anticipate it to decline even further. Tight supply, especially for starter homes, will pose some growth headwinds, though a strong economy and a high demand for housing will likely overcome that and lead to growth in home purchase activity.”

  • Joe Mellman, senior vice president and mortgage business leader at TransUnion

Q3 2017 Mortgage Loan Trends

Mortgage Lending Metric

Q3 2017

Q3 2016

Q3 2015

Q3 2014

Number of Mortgage Loans

52.7 million

52.3 million

52.9 million

53.6 million

 Borrower-Level Delinquency Rate (60+ DPD)





Average Debt Per Borrower





Prior Quarter Originations*

1.9 million

2.0 million

1.9 million

1.4 million

Average Balance

of New Mortgage Loans*





*Note: Originations are viewed one quarter in arrears to account for reporting lag.

Q3 2017 Mortgage Loan Performance by Age


60+ DPD

Annual Pct. Change

Average Loan Balances Per Consumer

Annual Pct. Change

Gen Z (1995 – present)





Millennials (1980-1994)





Gen X (1965-1979)





Baby Boomers (1946-1964)





Silent (Until 1945)






Personal Loan Balances Reach All-Time High as Delinquency Rates Decline

Q3 2017 IIR Personal Loan Summary

Personal loan balances reached their all-time high in Q3 2017, rising $5 billion to close the quarter at $112 billion. Personal loan debt levels per borrower rose to $8,017 in the same timeframe. Much of the recent rise in personal loan balances can be attributed to the less risky credit risk tiers. For the first time since Q1 2016, prime and above prime originations increased by double-digit percentages between Q2 2016 and Q2 2017, while subprime originations dropped for the fourth consecutive quarter, declining 7.1% on an annual basis. Serious delinquency rates (60+ DPD) in Q3 2017 declined to 3.13%, a marked improvement from recent third quarters. During the previous five third quarters (2012-2016), the average serious delinquency rate was 3.60% and fell between a range of 3.48% and 3.88%.

Instant Analysis

“Unsecured personal loan balances continue to increase, as more prime consumers are choosing to use personal loans to meet their credit needs. At the same time, we’ve seen slower growth among non-prime balances, helping to drive the overall delinquency rate lower. Millennials and Gen Z are contributing to the stronger industry performance. Both groups have increased their average balances per borrower and improved their delinquency rates.”

  • Jason Laky, senior vice president and consumer lending business leader at TransUnion

Q3 2017 Unsecured Personal Loan Trends

Personal Loan Metric

Q3 2017

Q3 2016

Q3 2015

Q3 2014

Total Balances

$112 billion

$100 billion

$83 billion

$66 billion

Number of Unsecured Personal Loans

17.5 million

16.2 million

14.3 million

12.5 million

 Borrower-Level Delinquency Rate (60+ DPD)





Average Debt Per Borrower





Prior Quarter Originations*

3.6 million

3.6 million

3.6 million

3.2 million

Average Balance of New Unsecured Personal Loans*





*Note: Originations are viewed one quarter in arrears to account for reporting lag.

Q3 2017 Unsecured Personal Loan Performance by Age


60+ DPD

Annual Pct. Change

Average Loan Balances Per Consumer

Annual Pct. Change

Gen Z (1995 – present)





Millennials (1980-1994)





Gen X (1965-1979)





Baby Boomers (1946-1964)





Silent (Until 1945)






About TransUnion (NYSE:TRU)

Information is a powerful thing. At TransUnion, we realize that. We are dedicated to finding innovative ways information can be used to help individuals make better and smarter decisions. We help uncover unique stories, trends and insights behind each data point, using historical information as well as alternative data sources. This allows a variety of markets and businesses to better manage risk and consumers to better manage their credit, personal information and identity. Today, TransUnion has a global presence in more than 30 countries and a leading presence in several international markets across North America, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Through the power of information, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies and families and safer communities worldwide.

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