One thing that improves with age, apparently, is creditworthiness. A study of average credit scores by generation shows that every major demographic group has an average credit score that is better than the generation that came before it.
In fact, in the latest analysis from the credit rating agency Experian, published in February 2023, scores show a slow but steady climb from the youngest Generation Z consumers through Millenials, Generation X, and the Baby Boomer generation.
And best of all is the so-called Silent Generation, those aged 75 and beyond. In fact, they're the only ones who rate a "very good" score on the FICO 8 scale.
- Americans' average credit scores rise slowly but steadily with each generation.
- Age is not a direct factor in credit score calculation, but the length of time that a consumer maintains a sound credit history is a factor in calculating the score.
- Credit scores have been rising across all generations over the past decade.
How Credit Scores Break Down by Generation
The average credit score for all Americans was 714 in 2022, and that was unchanged from the previous year.
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 consumers, those aged 18 to 25, had an average score of 679 as of September 2022, while the average among the oldest generation, aged 75 and older, was a full 81 points higher, at 760.
Millennials, aged 26 through 41, are not scoring far above Generation Z, with a 687 average in 2022. From there, it's a 19-point bump to the average of 706 for Generation X, those aged 42 to 57, and then an even bigger jump to the 742 average for baby boomers, those ages 58 to 76.
At the top of the list is the silent generation, those aged 75 and above, with a 760 average credit score. That makes them the only generation with a "very good" average.
Age is not an explicit factor in calculating credit scores. 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 18-25)||679 - Fair||679 - Good|
|Millennials (26-41)||686 - Fair||687 - Good|
|Generation X (42-57)||705 - Good||706 - Good|
|Baby boomers (58-76)||740 - Good||742 - Good|
|Silent generation (75+)||760 - Very Good||760 - 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.
What Is My Credit Rating Based on?
Three major credit rating agencies maintain and update credit scores on American consumers.
All three agencies assign a three-digit score that indicates how much credit you have acquired and how good you are about repaying it on time. Any time you request a loan or a credit card, the company you apply to will tap into one of these agencies and find out your current score. Whether you get the loan and what rate of interest you will be charged depend on that score.
What Is a 'Good' Credit Rating?
In general, a credit rating of 670 or above is considered good.
The score range is 300 to 800. Any score below 670 is poor or only fair. A score of 670 or above is good, very good, or exceptional.
How Can I Find Out My Credit Score?
You can monitor your own credit score any time online. It is available for free from websites like Credit Karma, and it is available in many online payment apps including those from credit card issuers like American Express and Citibank.
You are also entitled by law to a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. These can be accessed at AnnualCreditReport.com. This is a much more detailed document showing your entire recent history of transactions using credit and is the basis of your credit rating.
The Bottom Line
Experian sees its latest report as relatively good news. That is, the average scores in 2022 remained the same or little changed from 2021. That followed a period in which, in nine years out of 10, the average U.S. credit score increased or stayed the same. Given the economic uncertainty of the past couple of years, consumers continued to use credit efficiently.
Those years of credit rating increases can at least partially be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. 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. "What Is the Average Credit Score in the U.S.?"
Experian. "What Is the Average Credit Score in the U.S.?"
Experian. "What Are the Different Credit Scoring Ranges?"
FICO. "What's in My FICO Scores?"