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Credit Scores End Decade on High Note

Published Friday Jan 3, 2020

Credit Scores End Decade on High Note

Experian's latest State of Credit report, which examines credit and spending behavior, reveals that the average credit score hit an eight year high at 682. While people are taking on slightly more credit card, mortgage and nonmortgage debt year-over-year, delinquency rates are decreasing on average.

"We're seeing a promising trend in terms of how Americans are managing their credit as we head into a new decade with average credit scores increasing two points since 2018 to 682 – the highest we've seen since 2011," says Shannon Lois, Experian's head of analytics, consulting and operations. "Average credit card balances and debt are up year over year, yet utilization rates remain consistent at 30 percent, indicating consumers are using credit as a financial tool and managing their debts responsibly."

As part of the annual study, Experian also ranked states by average credit score in 2019:

Top 5 highest average credit scores by state in 2019 are:

  1. Minnesota                   715
  2. Vermont                     708
  3. South Dakota              707
  4. New Hampshire        707
  5. Massachusetts            705

Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma are the five lowest-ranking states, with credit scores below 660.

Battle of the Sexes

When comparing the borrowing behaviors of men and women, Experian's State of Credit report revealed woman have a four-point lead over men with an average credit score of 686 compared to 682. While men and women both maintain a utilization rate of 30 percent, differences in how they manage credit include:

  • Men carry more non-mortgage and mortgage debt than women at $27,314 and $220,421 respectively; compared to $24,176 and $203,630.
  • Women have more credit cards and retail cards but carry lower balances with an average credit card balance of $6,569, compared with $6,872 and an average retail card balance of $1,858 compared to $2,087.
  • Men have a slightly higher 90+ days past due delinquency rate (34% compared to 33%).

Generational Divide

Experian's report revealed Gen Xers, millennials and Gen Zers tend to carry more debt (including mortgage, nonmortgage, credit card and retail card) than older generations and have higher delinquency and utilization rates.

"Understanding the factors that influence their overall credit profile can help consumers improve and maintain their financial health," says Rod Griffin, Experian's director of consumer education and awareness. "Credit can be used as a financial tool. Through this report, we hope to provide insights that will help consumers make more informed decisions about credit use as we prepare to head into a new decade."

Experian's analysis is based on a statistically relevant sampling of Experian's consumer credit database, available on the Experian Ascend Technology PlatformTM, from Q2 2017, 2018 and 2019. Analyzed credit files contained no personally identifiable information. Credit scores are based on VantageScore (range 300 – 850).


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