Equifax Quarterly Consumer Credit Insights: December 2023

  • Unsecured consumer credit applications declined (-5.0% vs December quarter 2022)
    • Credit card applications grew (+1.2% vs December quarter 2022)
    • Personal loan applications fell (-0.7% vs December quarter 2022)
    • Buy now pay later applications declined (-18.7% vs December quarter 2022)
  • Secured consumer credit applications increased (+1.1% vs December quarter 2022)
    • Mortgage applications grew marginally (+0.5% vs December quarter 2022)
    • Auto loan applications increased (+3.9% vs December quarter 2022)

SYDNEY – January 2024 – Stable interest rates and slower inflation brought some temporary relief to consumers in Q4 but signs of stress remain, according to the latest Equifax Quarterly Consumer Credit Insights - December 2023.

Released today by Equifax, the global data, analytics and technology company and leading provider of credit information and analysis in Australia and New Zealand, the Quarterly Insights measure the volume of credit applications for credit cards, personal loans, buy now pay later (BNPL), mortgages and auto loans.

Unsecured credit demand, comprising credit cards, personal loans and BNPL, decreased -5.0% in the December quarter, driven by slowing demand for credit cards (+1.2% in Q4 2023 versus the same period 2022), and a decline in personal loan applications (-0.7%). BNPL demand continued to fall in Q4 (-18.7%), although the rate of decline has slowed.

Kevin James, General Manager Advisory and Solutions, Equifax, said: “Throughout 2023, many consumers adjusted their spending habits to cope with the higher cost of living and rising interest rates. In Q4, these changes were coupled with the lower rate of inflation and stabilisation of interest rates, bringing some relief to household budgets. This was reflected in the decreased demand for unsecured credit, as people relied less on credit cards and personal loans to bridge the financial gap. 

“However, signs of stress remain. Credit card early arrears remain above 2022 levels, with accounts 90+ days past due up 15% versus Q4 2022. And we often see a spike in arrears in the first half of the year as festive season spending hits credit balances. We expect consumers’ financial resilience will be tested as the record spending seen in November falls due over the coming months,” Mr James said.

Secured credit demand, derived from mortgages and auto loans, increased +1.1% in Q4 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Mortgage demand rose +0.5% year-on-year, marking the first quarter of positive growth since 2021. Auto loan demand grew +3.9% in Q4 2023 vs the same quarter last year.

“Stable rates have had a positive impact on mortgages, with demand share for new mortgages rising to 28% in Q4 of 2023. Conversely, refinance demand dampened, suggesting that existing mortgagees are also experiencing some financial relief.

“While mortgage arrears crept up in Q4, the rate of acceleration in early delinquency has slowed. The number of accounts 30-89 days past due grew 33% year-on-year in Q4, compared to a 47% increase reported last quarter - another indication that softer economic conditions are providing some breathing room for mortgage holders,” Mr James said.

IMAGE 1: Consumer Macro Credit Demand – Quarterly YOY

IMAGE 2: Consumer Credit Applications – By Type (Indexed to Nov 2019)

Source: Equifax

^The data has been re-indexed from 2018 to account for the recent inclusion of Buy Now Pay Later applications:
Re-indexed data to commence in 2018 (previously 2015)
Added buy now pay later and auto loan credit enquiries as a separate trendline (previously rolled up into personal loans)

At Equifax (NYSE: EFX), we believe knowledge drives progress. As a global data, analytics, and technology company, we play an essential role in the global economy by helping financial institutions, companies, employers, and government agencies make critical decisions with greater confidence. Our unique blend of differentiated data, analytics, and cloud technology drives insights to power decisions to move people forward. Headquartered in Atlanta and supported by nearly 15,000 employees worldwide, Equifax operates or has investments in 24 countries in North America, Central and South America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region. For more information, visit www.equifax.com.au or follow the company’s news on LinkedIn.


The Quarterly Consumer Credit Insights by Equifax measures the volume of credit card, personal loan applications, Buy Now Pay Later, mortgages and auto loan applications that go through the Equifax Consumer Credit Bureau by financial services credit providers in Australia. Credit applications represent an intention by consumers to acquire credit and in turn spend; therefore, the index is a lead indicator. This differs to other market measures published by the RBA which measure credit provided by financial institutions (i.e. balances outstanding).

Purpose of Equifax media releases:
The information in this release does not constitute legal, accounting or other professional financial advice. The information may change, and Equifax does not guarantee its currency or accuracy. To the extent permitted by law, Equifax specifically excludes all liability or responsibility for any loss or damage arising out of reliance on information in this release and the data in this report, including any consequential or indirect loss, loss of profit, loss of revenue or loss of business opportunity. 

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