Millennials could stand to learn a few credit-management habits from older generations, according to research from Experian.
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The credit rating agency’s fourth annual “State of Credit” report (released November 2013) looked into how four generations manage their credit card debt:
- The Greatest Generation (over 66 years old)
- Baby boomers (ages 47 to 65)
- Generation X (ages 30 to 46)
- Millennials (ages 19 to 29)
Although millennials tended to carry lower card balances and have fewer cards, they are “over-utilizing bankcards” and “beginning to develop bad credit habits,” according to the report. For example, millennials are more than four times as likely to pay their card bills late, compared with the Greatest Generation, and more than twice as likely as baby boomers. Younger generations’ credit utilization is also dangerously high: Generation X and millennials are both revolving 37 percent of their credit limits each month, while the Greatest Generation and baby boomers are revolving 14 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
These slip-ups combined with a shorter length of credit history give millennials the lowest average credit scores out of all the generations studied.
The chart below compares credit-management habits across generations. The “late payments” figures represent the average of incidence of delinquency: In other words, they show the average number of accounts paid late across all individuals analyzed. The analysis was based on a statistically significant sampling of Experian’s credit database.
|An overview of generational debt differences|
|Greatest generation|| Baby boomers|| Generation X||Millennials|
|Average number of cards||1.9||2.66||2.13||1.57|
| Average balance on cards||$3,044||$5,347||$5,343||$2,682|
| Revolving utilization ratio||16%||30%||37%||37%|
| Late payments (average incidence of delinquency)||0.14||0.33||0.61||0.58|
| Vantage score||735||700||653||628|