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How Do Credit Scores Vary by Age and Region?

How Do Credit Scores Vary by Age and Region?

Most people don’t realize how important their credit score is until it’s time to purchase a home, finance a car, or borrow money for any other reason. At that point, however, it’s often too late for them to make a big change in their scores so they’re stuck with whatever loan rates they can qualify for — if any at all.

That’s why it’s always smart to know your current credit score, as well as the steps you can take to improve it. With enough time and plenty of responsible credit use, anyone can boost their score to greater heights over time. (See also: 5 Simple Ways to Boost Your Credit Score)

With that being said, it’s helpful to know the average credit score for people like you. Fortunately, Experian highlights this information every year in their annual State of Credit Report. In their latest report, which was released in late 2018, they offered a range of data including the average VantageScore for people in each state along with each age group. If you’re curious where you stand, keep reading to learn more.

Average Credit Scores by Region

First things first: Experian data reveals that today’s average VantageScore is 675 — the highest average score since 2012. That fact bodes well for consumers who are trying to work on their scores and gaining momentum, but the stats are better for consumers in some states than others.

According to Experian, the states with the highest average VantageScore credit scores include:

  • Minnesota: 709
  • Vermont: 702
  • New Hampshire: 701
  • South Dakota: 700
  • Massachusetts: 699
  • North Dakota: 697
  • Wisconsin: 696
  • Iowa: 695
  • Nebraska: 695
  • Hawaii: 693

Where some states are doing much better than average when it comes to the average VantageScore of their residents, other states fall on the other end of the spectrum. States with the lowest average VantageScore include:

  • Mississippi: 647
  • Louisiana: 650
  • Georgia: 654
  • Alabama: 654
  • Nevada: 655
  • Texas: 656
  • Oklahoma: 656
  • South Carolina: 657
  • Arkansas: 657
  • West Virginia: 658

Average Credit Scores by Age

Also note that the average VantageScore can vary a lot depending on the generation you were born in. Not surprisingly, older generations who have had more time to build a positive credit history tend to have higher scores overall, while younger people have some work to do.

For example, the Silent Generation, which is made up of people who were born before 1946, has an average VantageScore of 729, while Baby Boomers, or those born between 1947 and 1966, trail just behind with an average score of 703.

Generation X, which includes individuals born between 1967 and 1981, has an average VantageScore of 658, while Generation Y, whose members were born between 1982 and 1995, boast an average score of 638.

Generation Z, which includes anyone born after 1996, has the lowest average VantageScore of all groups at 634, which is not surprising.

Average Credit Card Debt by State and Age

While tracking average VantageScore credit scores seems worthwhile, Experian goes the extra mile to share information on credit card debt among several different groups. For example, they note that the most indebted states include Alaska ($8,515), Connecticut ($7,258), and Virginia ($7,161), while the states with the least amount of credit card debt include Iowa ($5,155), Wisconsin ($5,363), and Mississippi ($5,421).

Funny enough, breaking down average credit card balances by age group reveals the exact opposite result of breaking them down by score. In other words, young people tend to have considerably lower average credit card balances than their older peers. Here’s how the average credit card debt by age breaks down in the Experian study:

  • Generation Z: $2,047
  • Generation Y: $4,315
  • Generation X: $7,750
  • Baby Boomers: $7,550
  • Silent Generation: $4,613

How to Improve Your Credit Score — No Matter Your Age or Where You Live

While the data shared by Experian is intriguing, it’s important to know that your credit score isn’t determined by your age or where you live. The factors that make up your credit score have little to do with you as an individual, but instead, how you use credit and your own attitudes toward debt.

Here are some steps that can help anyone improve their credit score and build a solid credit history over time:

  • Pay off debt and keep your utilization low. No matter whether we’re talking about VantageScore credit scores or your FICO score, it’s important to keep your credit card utilization low. For both FICO score and VantageScore scoring methods, it’s suggested to keep your utilization below 30%. Consider paying off debt to get below this threshold, and possibly even paying off more debt so you can save money on interest each month.
  • Make all your monthly payments on time. All credit scoring methods lean heavily on your payment history — or the frequency at which you’ve paid your credit card bills and other bills early or on time. On the flip side, you’ll also take a big hit on your credit score if you pay bills late or let your accounts go to collections.
  • Keep old credit card accounts open — even if you’re not using them. Each credit scoring method gives some weight to your average credit history — or the length of time you’ve had credit cards and other accounts open. Generally speaking, it’s a good thing to have plenty of accounts that have been around for years or even decades. That’s why you shouldn’t close old accounts — even if you’re not really using them.
  • Consider using different types of credit. Credit scoring models also look at the types of credit you have, whether that includes revolving debt, installment loans, mortgage loans, personal loans, or other types of debt. If you have only one type of credit now, it can help to diversify and prove you can treat other types of credit responsibly. If you only have a car loan, for example, consider getting a credit card and using it for regular purchases before paying it off each month. Showing you can use different types of credit in a positive way can only help you credit score in the long run.

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