More borrowers under prepare to miss loan payments

Consumers with low credit scores are falling behind in payments on auto loans, personal loans and credit cards, a sign that the healthiest consumer lending environment is being created. The record in the US is coming to an end.

Percentage of subprime credit cards and personal loans that are at least 60 days late are growing faster than usual, according to the credit reporting firm.

Equifax Inc.

In March, those crimes increased monthly for the eighth time in a row, nearly reaching pre-pandemic levels.

Many lenders and analysts say an increase in delinquencies is inevitable after they decline during the pandemic. Even so, the gains are getting attention from investors in part because the Federal Reserve, facing its highest inflation since the early 1980s, is embarking on what is expected. will series of strongest interest rate hikes in years. Higher delinquency figures could indicate strain on a segment of consumers, whose spending is an important driver of economic activity.

Fear that a rising exchange rate would push the economy into a recession spurred Worst start to the year for stocks for many decades. A poor earnings season for major US retail chains heightened those concerns this week, sending major retail stocks plummeting and sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its biggest drop of the year. on Wednesday.

Subprime car rental and leasing debt hit an all-time high in February, based on Equifax’s tracking since 2007.

Many people, including those with less than perfect credit, have paid off their debt and accumulate savings During the pandemic, a surprising result given that lenders initially thought borrowers would default on their loans in bulk when Covid-19 hit. Government response, including stimulus spending and child tax creditpromote the financial health of many families.

But now many of those benefits have dried up. Subprime borrowers, sometimes earning less or saving less, are being hit hard. Inflation, approaching highest score in four decadesis also forcing many households to choose between paying for essentials and paying off their monthly loans.

Some lenders are also more concerned about the ability of consumers to keep up with payments as some of their financial gains, including excess savings they have accumulated in the early stages. of the pandemic, gradually decreasing.

Wells Fargo

CEO & Co., Charlie Scharf said on Tuesday that higher prices of food and gasoline will limit US households. “We’re still in the best credit environment we’ve ever seen in our lives,” Scharf said at The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Day. However, he added, “There will be a decline in people’s ability to pay.”

An increase in subprime loans may reduce lenders’ willingness to lend to riskier borrowers.

Lenders have kept their standards for mortgage loans relatively strict. The boiling housing market and a flood of mortgage applications means lenders can be picky about their services and the types of borrowers they approve.

But last year, many lenders accepted subprime customers for other forms of loans, comforted by low unemployment and fueled by an eagerness to rebuild lost loan balances. affected early in the pandemic. Subprime lending hit a record last year as measured by the total amount derived personal loans and spending limits for Versatile credit cardaccording to Equifax.


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According to the latest data from Equifax, about 11% of general-purpose credit cards held by consumers with credit scores below 620 were at least 60 days behind in March payments compared to 9. .8% a year earlier. Past due personal loans and lines of credit were 11.3%, up from 10.4% a year ago. Both categories hit Covid-19 era lows of 7.5% and 8.3% respectively in July.

Tracked by Equifax, auto loans and rentals hit record levels in February, based on Equifax tracking, with 8.8% of subprime accounts being at least 60 days behind in payments. The figure dropped to 8.5% in March but remains the second-highest on record.

Fewer people are in the subprime credit score bracket than when the pandemic began. According to

Isaac is fair Corp.

creator of the FICO score.

Americans have massively increased the amount of credit they’ve used this year. With prices expected to continue to rise, this could be a warning sign about the economy. The WSJ’s Dion Rabouin examines these trends and explains what they tell us. Photo compilation: Elizabeth Smelov

Lenders say delinquencies are growing from artificially low levels and that their credit portfolios overall remain strong. Many refer to what is happening as a normalization, where the crime rate is back to levels more in line with pre-pandemic times. Some say their status of breaking the law remained below the level in the first quarter of 2020.

Capital One Financial Corp.

recorded a 30-day or more overdue rate on U.S. credit cards in the first quarter than it did a year ago. Lender

Bread Financial Holdings Inc.

also reported higher delinquency rates for cards and other loans during the quarter. Both lenders issue credit cards to subprime borrowers. Michael Taiano, senior director at Fitch Ratings’ US banking group, said other major card lenders have not recorded this increase in a period of more than a year.

“It would be unnatural for credit to stay where it is,” Capital One CEO Richard Fairbank said on the bank’s last earnings call. “We expect this to be a kind of broad-based return to normal over time.”

Upstart Holdings Inc.,

Oportun Financial Corp.


OneMain Holdings Inc.,

which facilitates or extends personal loans to people with limited credit histories or low credit scores, also reported increased indebtedness in the first quarter.

Upstart said during its earnings call last week that government stimulus has led to a temporary “over-activity” of consumers. It recently reintroduced loan modifications for borrowers who are having a hard time keeping up with payments.

Consumers are facing a mixed bag between rising gasoline prices and rents, while job growth and wages Raul Vazquez, chief executive officer of Oportun, said in an interview. “How all of that comes together, we’ll see over the next few months.”

Write letter for AnnaMaria Andriotis at [email protected]

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