Recent vintage loans perform well even as more non-prime consumers secured credit in second half of 2021

Q4 2021 TransUnion Credit Industry Insights Report explores latest credit trends

CHICAGO, IL (February 2, 2022) — With consumer credit performance maintaining healthy levels across auto, credit card, personal loans and mortgages, lenders continued to ramp up new account origination growth in the non-prime segment of the market near the end of 2021. TransUnion’s (NYSE: TRU) newly released Q4 2021 Quarterly Credit Industry Insights Report (CIIR) also 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.

The credit card market, in particular, saw a very high rate of new account growth in Q3 2021 (latest data available) 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% YoY from the 5.1 million non-prime originations that occurred in Q3 2020. The non-prime risk range includes the subprime risk tier (defined as a VantageScore 4.0 range of 300-600) as well as the near prime risk tier (score range of 600-660).

“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 vice president of research and consulting at TransUnion. “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.”

Non-Prime* Originations Show Growth Across Credit Products in Q3 2021


Credit Product

Non-Prime Originations QoQ Growth YoY Growth

Credit Card


9.0 million






Personal Loans


3.5 million
















2.4 million





*Non-Prime: VantageScore 4.0 Risk Range of 300-660

Note: Originations are viewed one quarter in arrears to account for reporting lag for the Q4 2021 CIIR.

Supply issues have impacted sales volume in the auto industry and consequently, auto originations have stayed relatively flat. However, overall originations were buoyed by the below prime segment – which grew from 2.3 million in Q3 2020 to 2.4 million in Q3 2021. The mortgage industry, on the other hand, saw explosive 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.

Despite recent upticks in 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%, but still remains well below the 3.48% observed in Q4 2019. The borrower-level 90+DPD for credit card reflects a similar trend and reached 1.48% in Q4 2021, but remains well below the 2.19% delinquency rate in Q4 2019.

TransUnion also looked at the 12-month performance of loans originated in 2020 compared to earlier years to better gauge consumer credit health. All credit products either outperformed or had similar performance compared to accounts opened in 2018 and 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. 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,” added Wise.

For more information about the report, please register for the Q4 2021 Quarterly Credit Industry Insights Report Webinar. Read on for more specific insights about credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, mortgages, and the Credit Industry Indicator.


Credit Card Industry Sees Explosive Origination Growth

Q4 2021 CIIR Credit Card Summary

Originations in the credit card industry saw a dramatic rebound in growth in Q3 2021, increasing 63.5% YoY to a record 20.1 million new accounts. Growth was observed across all risk tiers, with the distribution showing 45% of originations coming from below prime consumers – the highest proportion of originations occurring in this segment of the market since 2010. This increase in origination volume helped drive the number of consumers with a credit card to a high of 196 million in Q4 2021. Many card issuers are expanding access to credit and using it as a growth strategy to offset consumers carrying lower balances. The average balance per consumer increased slightly to $5,127 in Q4 2021, up from $5,103 in Q4 2020 but still below the pre-pandemic average of $5,818.


Instant Analysis

“While card balances are showing a slight improvement compared to a year ago, average balances are still below what was observed pre-pandemic. Balance growth that has occurred has mostly come from super prime consumers and as such, card issuers are aligning their growth strategies with these behaviors by offering higher credit lines to these consumers. Card issuers are also tapping into new consumer risk segments to ramp up growth. Originations to non-prime consumers are increasing and consumer performance has remained stable, especially from a historical perspective. ”
–       Paul Siegfried, senior vice president and credit card business leader at TransUnion


Q4 2021 Credit Card Trends


Credit Card Lending Metric

Q4 2021 Q4 2020 Q4 2019 Q4 2018

Number of Credit Cards


485.9 million


454.9 million


456.8 million


432.1 million

 Borrower-Level Delinquency Rate (90+ DPD)  









Average Debt Per Borrower

$5,127 $5,103 $5,818 $5,726

Prior Quarter Originations*

20.1 million 12.3 million 18.7 million 16.4 million
Average New Account Credit Lines*  








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


Personal Loan Balances Grow to an all-time High of $167 Billion

Q4 2021 CIIR Personal Loan Summary

The personal loan market has markedly rebounded since lenders pulled back during the early quarters of the pandemic. Origination volumes have returned to pre-pandemic levels with 5.1 million in Q3 2021, exceeding the 5.0 million loan originations in Q3 2019. The average new account balance grew by 23.8% YoY to $7,104 in Q3 2021. This growth helped drive personal loan balances to a total of $167 billion in Q4 2021 – an all-time high.

Instant Analysis

“The consumer lending market has returned to pre-pandemic levels, with balances even exceeding Q4 2019 numbers. Strong origination volumes, especially in below prime segments, coupled with material balance growth is an indication of lender confidence in consumer financial health. While the increase in subprime originations has led to a slight increase in delinquencies, they still remain well below pre-pandemic levels, and delinquencies by risk tier remain fairly stable.”
–       Liz Pagel, senior vice president and consumer lending business leader at TransUnion


Q4 2021 Unsecured Personal Loan Trends


Personal Loan Metric

Q4 2021 Q4 2020 Q4 2019 Q4 2018

Total Balances

$167 billion $145 billion $157 billion $136 billion
Number of Unsecured Personal Loans  

22.8 million


21.2 million


23.3 million


21.1 million

Number of Consumers with Unsecured Personal Loans  

19.9 million


19.3 million


20.8 million


19.1 million

Account-Level Delinquency Rate (90+ DPD)  








 Borrower-Level Delinquency Rate (60+ DPD)  









Average Debt Per Borrower

$9,622 $8,795 $8,780 $8,240

Prior Quarter Originations*

5.1 million 3.5 million 5.0 million 4.6 million
Average Balance of New Unsecured Personal Loans*  








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


Inventory Challenges Impact Vehicle Sales

Q4 2021 IIR Auto Loan Summary

In light of reduced vehicle inventory and semi-conductor chip shortages, YoY origination rates remained flat in Q3 2021 at 7.3 million. As a result of low supply and high demand, vehicle affordability and pricing have been impacted, with the average balance of an auto loan (includes both new and used) growing to $26,976 – a 14% YoY increase over the same period last year. Average monthly payments have also been affected by the current environment and have increased from $459 in Q3 2019 prior to the pandemic to $531 in Q3 2021.

Instant Analysis

“Dealerships continue to face challenges around vehicle supply, and while originations held relatively flat in Q3 2021, uncertainty surrounding when inventory issues might be resolved continue to hang over the auto industry. We expect this, coupled with rising vehicle prices across both used and new vehicles, will impact auto sales through the remainder of 2022. Consumer performance, however, remains at healthy levels – especially as the majority of pandemic forbearance programs have expired.”
–       Satyan Merchant, senior vice president and automotive business leader at TransUnion


Q4 2021 Auto Loan Trends


Auto Lending Metric

Q4 2021 Q4 2020 Q4 2019 Q4 2018

Number of Auto Loans


82.4 million


83.5 million


83.8 million


82.0 million

 Borrower-Level Delinquency Rate (60+ DPD)  









Prior Quarter Originations*

7.3 million 7.3 million 7.5 million 7.1 million

Average Monthly Payment**

$531 $473 $459 $443
Average Balance

of New Auto Loans*










Average Debt Per Borrower









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

**Data from IHSM Catalyst, information is viewed one quarter in arrears.


Click here for additional auto industry metrics.


Mortgage Market Cools as Origination Volumes Shift from Refinance to Purchase

Q4 2021 CIIR Mortgage Loan Summary

Mortgage originations have started to slow from the peak levels seen in 2020, dropping -13% YoY to 3.4 million in Q3 2021. While this remains far above the pre-pandemic origination levels observed in Q3 2019 (2.3 million), rising interest rates have made it less attractive to secure a Rate and Term refinance. These refis saw a YoY decrease of -42%. In contrast Cash-out refi grew by 14% YoY, reflecting homeowners’ increase in home equity. Purchase volume remained flat. As such, purchase share of originations grew from 53% in Q2 2021 to 55% in Q3 2021. With consumer demand remaining high and home inventory remaining low, this dynamic has continued to increase home prices, with total mortgage balances reaching a record level of $10.7 trillion– up 9% YoY and the highest annual growth rate since before 2010.

Instant Analysis 

“Due to the low interest rate environment earlier in 2021, much of the originations that have occurred in recent quarters came from Rate and Term refinancing. Many mortgage lenders were laser focused on processing that level of volume. With the pool of consumers who would benefit from a refinance shrinking and interest rates starting to rise, mortgage lenders will now look to implement diversified growth strategies. It is becoming more important for lenders to find borrowers that are both in the market for a home and that qualify for one. New consumer populations, such as the low-to-moderate income consumer segment, have been relatively untapped. Consumer demand for a home is still high and with more consumers eyeing home purchases, it can be a lucrative avenue for mortgage lenders to pursue in the year ahead.”
–       Joe Mellman, senior vice president and mortgage business leader at TransUnion


Q4 2021 Mortgage Trends

Mortgage Lending Metric Q4 2021 Q4 2020 Q4 2019 Q4 2018
Number of Mortgage Loans  

51.2 million


50.7 million


50.3 million


49.5 million

Account-Level Delinquency Rate (90+ DPD)  












Prior Quarter Originations* 3.4 million 3.9 million 2.3 million 1.6 million
Mortgage Origination* Distribution – Purchase  












Mortgage Origination* Distribution –














Average Balance

of New Mortgage Loans*




About TransUnion

TransUnion is a global information and insights company with over 13,000 associates operating in more than 30 countries. We make trust possible by ensuring each person is reliably represented in the marketplace. We do this with a Tru™ picture of each person: an actionable view of consumers, stewarded with care. Through our acquisitions and technology investments we have developed innovative solutions that extend beyond our strong foundation in core credit into areas such as marketing, fraud, risk and advanced analytics. As a result, consumers and businesses can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for Good® — and it leads to economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for millions of people around the world.


Michael Ingalls
SVP, Media Relations
PenVine for TransUnion
Phone: (917) 494-4909

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