PRESS RELEASE
Consumers’ Credit Market Experiences Improve; Expectations for Future Credit Approval Dip
July 15, 2016

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released results from its June 2016 SCE Credit Access Survey, which provides information on consumers' experiences and expectations regarding credit demand and credit access.

The release shows an improvement in consumers’ experiences in the credit market compared to the February release, with a decline in the proportion of “discouraged” and “rejected” consumers.  Rejection rates declined, reaching the series’ low.  The drop in rejection rates was observed for all credit types except housing-related debt applications.  The expectations component of the survey was somewhat more subdued, relative to our February reading.  The proportion of respondents likely to apply for at least one type of credit over the next 12 months decreased slightly.  Moreover, consumers are somewhat more pessimistic of future approval rates.  The perceived likelihood of credit applications being rejected rose for nearly all credit types, with the most notable increase for mortgage applications.

Experiences

  • The distribution of credit seekers improved compared to the February 2016 Credit Access Survey: the share of respondents who were too discouraged to apply over the past 12 months despite needing credit fell from 5.8 percent in February to 5.4 percent (down from 6.8 percent in October 2015), reaching its lowest value since the start of the Credit Access Survey in October 2013.  The proportion of respondents who applied for credit and were granted credit over the last 12 months was 33.4 percent, slightly below the 34.0 percent level in February. The proportion of respondents who applied for credit and were rejected dropped from 9.0 percent in February to 8.0 percent.
  • Application rates declined from 43.0 percent to 41.5 percent, towards the lower end of the range in which they have prevailed over the last year.  Application rates declined for both younger (ages 40 and under) and older (ages 60 and over) respondents.
  • Rejection rates declined.  The per applicant rejection rate dropped from 20.9 percent to 19.3 percent, close to its series low of 19.2 percent reached in June last year.1 The decline was driven by those with lower credit scores (scores below 680).  The per application rejection rate fell to its lowest level since the start of the series to 29.5 percent.  This drop was also driven by lower credit score respondents.
  • Turning to specific credit types (credit card, credit card limit increase, auto loan, mortgage, and mortgage refinance):

    1. Application rates for credit cards increased from 28.5 percent in February to 30.6 percent, their highest reading since the series start.  The increase was driven primarily by high credit score respondents (scores of 760 and above) and middle-age respondents (ages 41 to 59).  The request rate for credit card limit increases declined from 15.4 percent to 11.7 percent.  Application rates for other credit types (auto, mortgage, and refinancing) were within a percentage point of their February 2016 levels.
    2. Rejection rates declined for all credit types, except housing-related debt.  The rejection rate for mortgages rose from 5.7 percent to 10.3 percent, and for mortgage refinancing applications from 9.7 percent to 17.3 percent.  However, these rejection rates are still below their pre-2015 levels.
  • Voluntary and involuntary (lender-initiated) account closures increased slightly.  The increase in involuntary closures was driven primarily by younger respondents, while the increase in voluntary closures was driven by lower credit score respondents. 

Expectations

  • The proportion of respondents who report that they are likely to apply for at least one type of credit over the next 12 months decreased from 29.8 percent to 28.4 percent.  This decrease is driven by younger and lower credit score respondents.
  • The average likelihood of applying for specific kinds of credit over the next 12 months exhibited small changes, except for the likelihood of applying for mortgage refinancing which rose from 8.7 percent to 11.6 percent.  This increase was prevalent across all age and credit score groups.
  • The average perceived likelihood of a credit application being rejected, conditional on applying, rose for all credit types except requests for credit card limit increases. The increase was most notable for mortgages applications, for which the expected rate of rejection has risen nearly 5 percentage points since October 2015 to 39.9 percent.

Detailed results and a full set of interactive charts are available here.

About the SCE Credit Access Survey

The SCE Credit Access Survey, fielded as part of the SCE (Survey of Consumer Expectations), provides information on consumers' experiences and expectations regarding credit demand and credit access.  Every four months, SCE panelists are asked whether they applied for credit in the past 12 months, and the resulting outcomes.  They are also asked about their expectations of applying for credit over the next twelve months, and the perceived likelihood of those applications being accepted.  The Federal Reserve Bank of New York collects this information for five specific credit products: auto loans, credit cards, credit card limit increases, mortgages, and mortgage refinancing.  Survey findings (in instances with sufficient sample sizes) are also presented separately by age and self-reported credit score subgroups.

More information about the SCE survey goals, design, and content can be found at: http://www.newyorkfed.org/microeconomics/sce.html



1 Additionally, the June 2016 release also includes a revision to the variable “Rejection Rate Per Application.”

Contact
Betsy Bourassa  
(212) 720-6885
betsy.bourassa@ny.frb.org