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posted on 28 March 2015

February 2015: Consumers Report a Higher Likelihood of Applying for Credit

from the New York Fed

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York today released results from its February 2015 SCE Credit Access Survey, which provides information on consumers' experiences and expectations regarding credit demand and credit access. The release shows little change in application rates for credit over the last twelve months, but a decline in rejection rates, particularly for credit card limit increases. The expectations component of the survey shows an increase in the average likelihood of applying for credit over the next 12 months for all five credit products; the increase is most pronounced for mortgage refinance requests.


  • The distribution of credit seekers was largely unchanged from October 2014: 30 percent of respondents applied for credit over the last 12 months and were granted credit, 10 percent applied and were rejected, and 6.7 percent were too discouraged to apply despite indicating a need for credit.
  • Rejection rates decreased from their previous reading in October 2014.
    • Rejection rates per applicant decreased from 30 percent to 25 percent. While rejection rates declined for higher creditworthy groups, they rose for the lowest creditworthy group to 59 percent, up from 55 percent in October 2014 and 51 percent in February 2014.
    • Rejection rates per application decreased from 44 percent to 32 percent, returning to early and mid-2014 levels. Rejection rates declined for all age groups, with larger declines for those aged 40 and below, and those 60 and above.
  • Turning to specific credit types (credit card; credit card limit increase; auto loan; mortgage; mortgage refinance), application rates were largely unchanged. The most notable change in rejection rates was for credit card limit increase requests that decreased from 38 percent to 24 percent.


  • The proportion of respondents who report they are likely to apply for at least one type of credit over the next 12 months decreased from 32 percent in October to 29 percent, back to levels seen during the first half of 2014. This decline was largely driven by middle-aged respondents (ages 41-59).
  • At the same time, the average likelihood of applying for credit over the next 12 months increased for each credit type separately. The most pronounced increase was observed for the average likelihood of applying for a mortgage refinance over the next 12 months, which doubled from 6 percent in October to 12 percent. While increases are observed for all sub-groups, they are striking for 41-59 year old respondents, for whom the average likelihood jumped from 6 percent to 15 percent.
  • The average perceived likelihood of the credit application being rejected, conditional on applying, remained relatively stable for mortgages, credit cards and auto loans, and declined slightly for credit card limit increase requests and mortgage refinance applications.

Detailed results are available here.

About the Survey of Consumer Expectations

The SCE contains information about how consumers expect overall inflation and prices for food, gas, housing and education to behave. It also provides insight into Americans' views about job prospects and earnings growth and their expectations about future spending and access to credit. The SCE also provides measures of uncertainty in expectations for the main outcomes of interest. Expectations are also available by age, geography, income, education and numeracy.

The SCE is a nationally representative, internet-based survey of a rotating panel of approximately 1,200 household heads. Respondents participate in the panel for up to twelve months, with a roughly equal number rotating in and out of the panel each month. Unlike comparable surveys based on repeated cross-sections with a different set of respondents in each wave, our panel allows us to observe the changes in expectations and behavior of the same individuals over time.

The survey is conducted on our behalf by The Demand Institute, a non-profit organization jointly operated by The Conference Board and Nielsen.

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. We collect 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.

A full set of interactive charts detailing the monthly SCE Credit Access Survey findings can be found here.

More information about the SCE survey goals, design, and content can be found here.

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