Credit scores have been on a steady rise over the past decade. But something that's remained consistent is that older Americans have the highest average scores, with each generation scoring better as a whole than the younger generation behind it. Here are the most recent statistics.
- Americans' average credit scores have risen with each generation.
- Age is not a direct factor in credit score calculation, but having a longer credit history can help build one's score over time.
- Credit scores have been rising across all generations over the past decade.
How Credit Scores Break Down by Generation
The range in credit scores from Generation Z to the Silent Generation is wide. Based on the commonly used FICO 8 score, the credit reporting agency Experian calculates that Gen Z adults (18 to 23 years old) had an average score of 674 in October 2020, while the average among the oldest generation (age 75 and older) was almost 85 points higher, at 758.
Millennials (ages 24 to 39) are not scoring far above Generation Z, with just a 680 average. From there, it's a 19-point bump to Generation X’s average of 699 (ages 40 to 55), and then a bigger jump to the average baby boomer score of 736 (ages 56 to 74).
A person's age is not an explicit factor in calculating their credit score. However, older consumers have had opportunities to build up their credit history and establish a positive repayment track record for longer than younger ones have.
|Average FICO 8 Score by Generation|
|Generation Z (ages 18-23)||667 - Fair||674 - Good|
|Millennials (24-39)||668 - Fair||680 - Good|
|Generation X (40-55)||688 - Good||699 - Good|
|Baby boomers (56-74)||731 - Good||736 - Good|
|Silent generation (75+)||757 - Very Good||758 - Very Good|
How Credit Scores Are Calculated
The first thing to understand about credit scores is that more than one scoring model exists. However, the most commonly used credit score, across the majority of lenders and tracked by all three of the credit reporting agencies, is the FICO 8 score.
FICO 8 scores can range from 300 up to 850, and take into account the following five weighted factors.
- Payment history. This is the single most impactful factor in your score, weighted at 35%. It measures how often you have made payments late or on time.
- Credit utilization. Also heavily weighted, at 30% of your score, credit utilization refers to how much of your available credit you are using at a particular time. In other words, how much debt do you have relative to your available credit lines? Lower utilization rates are better for your score.
- Length of credit history. At 15%, the weighting of this factor is notably smaller. But a credit history that stretches back a few decades, rather than just a few years, will improve your score. This is part of the reason older consumers tend to have higher credit scores.
- New credit inquiries. How many times you've applied for new credit in the past two years can ding your score if it's a high number. At 10% of your total score, this can have an impact, but it is far less important than the factors above.
- Credit mix. Similarly, showing you've been able to manage a mix of different credit types (e.g., credit cards versus installment loans like a mortgage or auto loan) counts for 10% of your score.
The Bottom Line
In nine years out of 10, from 2011 through 2020, the average U.S. credit score has increased or stayed the same. But 2020 was notable in that it saw much more significant improvement, with every generation's average score rising. Compared to the previous eight increases in the decade, each for only a couple of points, the 2020 average score across all Americans surged eight points, from 2019's average of 703 up to 711. In particular, the averages for Generation X and millennials rose 11 and 12 points, respectively.
The jump can at least partially be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. Namely, lockdowns and travel restrictions were an impediment to many categories of discretionary spending, so credit utilization rates fell. Also, federal stimulus payments, combined with reduced spending, helped many consumers make their card payments on time, leading in turn to lower delinquency rates.
Experian is one of three major credit reporting agencies in the U.S., and its analysis of average scores by generation draws in aggregated fashion on the millions of consumer credit and debt records it tracks.