Personal Credit Trends for 2019

Good Credit

Rod Ebrahimi, Founder, and CEO, Upturn

It’s the start of a New Year and the financial markets are already gearing up for what is set to be a transformative year especially for the U.S. consumer credit market which is poised for growth throughout 2019. Rod Ebrahimi, the founder and CEO of Upturn, shares his insights into the trends shaping this market.

Banking Behavior Will Become a Key Driver in Credit Scores

Consumers with positive banking behavior will soon see that information impacting their credit scores. Leading credit scoring company Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), for example, is set to launch a new score called The Ultra FICO™ Score.

This new score will start as a pilot program for those who don’t have credit – often called the “credit invisible” – as well as those who have little credit. The program is straightforward where an individual links their checking or savings accounts, and, in turn, their banking behavior will become a factor in their UltraFICO™ Score.

As individuals begin to adopt this new way of monitoring credit, we will witness an increase in access to credit as well as a surge in financial inclusion across the country. FICO reported that this could help more than 15 million consumers obtain a FICO score. FICO also says that “7 out of 10 consumers that show average savings of $400 without negative balances in the past three months see an increase in their FICO® Score with the UltraFICO™ Score.”

Utility Bills Will Factor Into Credit Scores

Utility Bills will also open the door to enabling consumers to build credit. Credit reporting agency Experian is set to release Experian Boost™, which will enable consumers to add utility bills to their Experian credit report. If a consumer has a history of paying these bills on time, including telecom bills, then they could see a boost their scores.

According to Experian, “many consumers have credit files that are considered too ‘thin.’” This means that “while they may be paying their utility, mobile phone, and cable TV bills on time month after month, this responsible behavior hasn’t been acknowledged or rewarded with a higher credit score.” Experian Boost™ was designed to change that as it enables you to instantly add utilities and cellphone payments to your credit report which, in turn, will increase a credit score. Platforms such as this will empower consumers and change how they build credit

The Rise of Subprime Loans  

One of the predictions from a 2019 consumer credit forecast by TransUnion is that there might be more subprime loans throughout the New Year. Specifically, the report highlights that auto loan, mortgage loan, and unsecured loan originations will increase ever-so-slightly while and subprime credit cards originations will see a bit of a decline. Subprime loans, which offered to consumers whose credit isn’t strong enough to qualify for more conventional loans at prime interest rates, have been seen as a worrisome trend in the past. Specifically, the subprime mortgage crisis led into the Great Recession. Despite these predictions, TransUnion notes that “the percentage of subprime borrowers originating loans still remains far below what was observed at the onset of the last recession.”

Increased Risk of Identity Theft

In today’s connected world there isn’t a month that goes by without some sort of data breach or Ransome attack. The hard reality is that as technology becomes more sophisticated these types of attacks will become more brazen. Unfairly, cyber-attacks can have an impact on a consumer’s credit line. Financial advisor Douglas A. Boneparth, CFP®, for example, warns that a potential economic downturn could create an environment for more nefarious activity such as identity theft. Boneparth goes on to say that “now’s the time to get organized and be proactive.”

One such way to do this is to keep an eye on your credit report, while also remembering to dispute any mistakes found. 22 million people a year have their credit rejected — impacting everything from purchasing a new home to buying or leasing a car. Often, they aren’t given a clear reason as to why they were not approved; an astonishing 25% of credit reports are potentially inaccurate. Throughout 2019 we will see companies like Upturn give consumers greater insight into their credit report data and help them identify and dispute errors.

Rod Ebrahimi, Founder, and CEO, Upturn – Rod is a successful entrepreneur and a proven leader in fintech. BBVA-backed Upturn was founded in 2017 by Rod Ebrahimi, former co-founder and CEO of personal debt and credit management software company ReadyForZero.