Accessible credit is essential for many reasons in today’s marketplace. For one, having access to credit makes it easier to purchase a car, which greatly facilitates employment, job retention, and overall earnings – especially among low-income households.
However, individuals who have poor credit pay higher prices for their vehicles, or worse, they are denied access at all. FICO recently estimated that 20% of individuals with a credit score still face the added costs of poor credit. Furthermore, this excludes the nearly 20 million Americans that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates live without a credit score.
Such a substantial proportion of the population would greatly beneﬁt from interventions to establish or rebuild credit, but doing so takes time and resources. While many ﬁnancial institutions offer credit building products such as secured credit cards or loans, uptake of such products is low because potential beneﬁciaries struggle to put aside enough savings for the down payment. Therefore, ﬁnding ways to rebuild credit may be beyond someone’s reach if they work a low-wage job or struggle to make ends meet.
To help address this problem, we partnered with IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union (IHMVCU), a credit union serving a large population of low- to moderate-income earning families in Iowa and Illinois. Through their Reliable Rides program, IHMVCU is able to connect sub-prime, indirect borrowers with credit. Since the program targets sub-prime borrowers, Reliable Rides offers an opportunity to tailor interventions that could help this speciﬁc population to build savings and to take steps towards rebuilding their credit.