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Which Americans have the best credit?

Hint: It's not Gen Y, which is just starting on the road to building good credit scores.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 16, 2012 4:44PM

This post comes from Jeanine Skowronski at partner site MainStreet.


MainStreet on MSN MoneyA new infographic from Experian shows that the "Greatest Generation" lives up to its name in terms of credit scores.


The credit bureau analyzed data from its user base and found that collectively those 66 years or older have the best credit reports, netting a VantageScore of 829. Comparatively, baby boomers (those ages 47 to 65) averaged a 782, Generation X (those ages 30 to 46) averaged a 718 and Generation Y (those ages 19 to 29), whose members are just starting to build credit, averaged a 672.

Nationwide, the average debt in the U.S. is $78,030, including mortgages and other types of debt, and the average VantageScore is 751, which is pretty subpar, considering VantageScore operates on a scale of 500 to 990. Post continues below.

The results of Experian's analysis aren't entirely surprisingly, given that age does tangentially affect your credit score. (As MainStreet has previously reported, older borrowers usually net more points since their credit histories tend to be longer, thanks to the passage of time.)


However, it is interesting -- and perhaps a bit worrisome -- that the gap in debts owed by baby boomers, who are at or rapidly nearing retirement age, and Generation Y (who are not) is not all that wide. Those ages 47 to 65 owe, on average, $101,951 in borrowed funds, while those ages 30 to 46 owe about $111,121.


Scores aside, there was one thing all four generations had in common. For each, including the youthful Generation Y, the largest source of debt was a first mortgage.


More on MainStreet and MSN Money:

Feb 17, 2012 9:27AM
The whole credit score system is a farce. If you have had credit in the past and made the payments on time or early, have enough money in the bank to buy everything you own twice including your house, pay off your credit cards every month, and owe nothing but your monthly utility bills each month which you pay in full on time every month, YOU WILL NOT HAVE A PERFECT CREDIT SCORE! You know why? Because you don't make the banks enough money paying interest and service fees. Oh, and not to mention you are actually more financially sound and responsible than the banking industry. They don't like that.
Feb 17, 2012 11:52AM
The FICO score is the "I love debt" score.  Since I paid off my car and have zero credit card debt, I'm guessing my score is dropping.  Now I just wish there was a law against using the FICO score to determine things like insurance rates.  I know of someone whose home insurance rates went up for no reason other than she had paid off her debts and closed her credit cards.  Gee, being responsible and living within your means is rewarded with being penalized?  Great! 
Feb 17, 2012 9:42AM

Credit Scores are a joke, the credit reporting agencies allow parties to report "unproven allegations of debt" and while the party reporting the allegation of debt makes no attempt to obtain a court issued judicial judgement.   The agencies continue to report the "allegation of debt" as a negative in the individuals credit report.       Many big business entities with computer driven credit reporting programs use the Negative Credit Reporting as a means of attempting to collect an UNPROVEN ALLEGATION of debt from a party they deem to owe them monies.       Its a  GUILTY until you prove yourself to be innocent driven reporting system and once again the American consumer and taxpayer is harmed by the actions of these negative reporting actions of UNPROVEN ALLEGATIONS of debt.


No negative debt reporting should be allowed to be on a credit report for more than 18-20 months without the party making the "allegation of debt" initiating a judical attempt to collect the purported debt that they claim to exist.         Most of these companies refuse to take action in court because they know that they will be counterclaimed or lose the action to convert an allegation into a judgement.


Once again our elected representatives have failed the American citizen.

Feb 17, 2012 5:48AM
Since it takes years to buld a high credit score, isn't this this whole article pointless ?  After all, who is going to have a higher credit score, someone that has had a couple of credit cards and a car loan for a couple of years, or someone that has had several mortgages, several car loans, and credit cards for 30+ years.  I mean, duh..........
Feb 17, 2012 3:35PM

I agree with others comments that the way credit ratings are calculated is a joke. They are out of date with reality. My score is reduced because I don't have car loans and yet I have $50,000 worth of  cars in my garage that I saved for and purchased for cash. I use my credit cards for expenses and so depending on when my rating is taken my score is lowered simply because I have used up credit availability that my employer will reimburse me for at the end of the month. None of my savings are taken into account. The scary thing is that so much in our every day life is based on these ratings, car insurance, home insurance etc. What I find even more scary is that these credit agencies (and the banks) then try and sell us identity theft protection when it is they that could really put a squeeze on identity theft if they really wanted to. It is time that the government watchdogs took a long close look at the credit agencies I think. 

Feb 17, 2012 11:44AM
This is how you know credit reporting and scores are a scheme:  when you have to PAY some agency for your OWN credit information.  I think it cost about 50 bucks to pay such agencies like Experian (and other credit reporting agencies).  They say you can get one FREE *eyes* credit report on yourself a year.  Well, thank you US government and credit agencies for the crumb...*eyes*.  It's my information I should be able to have it or get a credit report whenever I want to without paying for it.
Feb 17, 2012 11:11AM

Using credit, unless it is cash back CC and it is paid off monthly, is nothing but a loan against ones future earnings. I am one who has always lived below my means and have not used any kind of credit, except cash back credit cards which are paid off monthly, since 1968. I have never purchased a new automobile. In my opinion one of the major sources of financial failure for the average family is automobiles. If you wish to get a head financially never purchase a new auto and always think a vehicle is for transportation to get you from point X to point Y and not as a status.

Feb 17, 2012 12:11PM

I'm just inside the Baby boom (63) and I have credit scores of 815 and 795. I have two rentals with mortgages (one quarter value) and my own home with no mortgage. Paid three mortgages off on my residence to start myself in rentals and income property and paid it off. Pay off all my bills on time. Never buy more than I need. It's not hard to have a good credit score. Pay your bills and don't buy a lot.


Here's the secret.


1. Only buy appreciating assets or producing assets- real-estate, homes, rentals, or preferred stock and annuities.


2. Don't buy anything else unless you absolutely have to.


3. When you buy a car, buy a cheap good one and run it into the ground for 300,000 miles  Pay it off quick and maintin it well. It will cost you less ot rebuild it and maintain it than buy a new one.


4. Stop smoking drinking, using drugs, and buying junk.


If you don't want to do it- fine be a wage slave all your life.


Feb 17, 2012 8:38AM
Yup, the article is pretty much a load of (rap.  I just applied for my credit score last weekend, which amounted to a farce.  708, but according to the advice, I could increase it by getting some more loans, mortgages and credit card card debt.  As others have noted, the score is very different among the three reporting agencies, which means I probably should devote at least 100 hours of my time to clean up their false reporting.  On top of that, after I logged into to get my report, my credit card got hacked with about 20 some attempts of fraudulent charges.  Oh great!
Feb 17, 2012 3:07PM
I was completely shocked to learn that people with the longest credit history have better scores!  Who would have thought it, after working your whole life to build retirement savings and finding yourself an empty-nester, no longer on the hook for tuition (yours or your kids), that your credit score would be higher than young people starting out with new mortgages and student loan debt.  I hope Experian applied to the federal government for a grant to do this study, our government likes to spend our tax dollars on such insightful studies that teach us things that could not be logically deduced by using complex concepts, such as common sense.
Feb 17, 2012 11:31AM
You know, I'm sick of people grading me.  They are constantly changing the way they make up these "credit scores."  They do not allow for ppl having traumas, dramas and unforeseen events in their lives.  Not everyone makes 2 incomes and can save/invest one while living on the other.   Some ppl give to help others, some ppl don't give a dime to anyone else to help them out.  I haven't had credit card debt in years, yet my "score" hasn't changed much because they then decide to deduct points because I haven't used credit  - so I start using the card for 1 or 2 purchases a month and then pay off, but still the points don't go up much because I'm not using enough of the credit.   I have done the same type of work for 30 years, have never been unemployed except once for 3 weeks - but that doesn't count.  My score is okay, but there is absolutely no reason why it should not be top of the line except that these self-appointed "scorers" need to keep themselves in business so they are constantly changing their criteria.  Screw them.  I no longer to plan to buy a house, will just continue to rent, so I really don't care about them.  Just glad to be have a chance to say what I think about these useless people.
Feb 17, 2012 3:19PM

My husband and I  from day 1 have always had good credit,  due to the fact that he was a smart and mature man that kept his family first but within boundries.  Age has nothing to do with it- either you take responsiblility or you don't.


Feb 17, 2012 2:28AM
This article is a joke the folks who have the best scores are the folks who DON'T rely on credit period....CASH IS KING.....ALWAYS. Get outta debt folks that's what they want for you is debt SLAVERY.
Feb 17, 2012 12:18AM

LibsMakeMELaugh - I remember reading recently, a statement in an Agatha Christie mystery.  It was quoted by her female sleuth, Miss Marple.  She said that when she was 16 her aunt told her this, but she didn't believe it.  Now she did.  The quote:


"Young people THINK old people don't know anything.  Old people KNOW young people don't know anything."  Sounds satisfactory to me.

Feb 17, 2012 10:04AM
This article is a joke. It is clearly nothing more than an advertisement for Experian's credit scoring scheme that it has been pimping for the last few years trying to compete with established FICO scoring. Pure propaganda.
Feb 17, 2012 12:54PM
This is how you STOP depending on credit and credit scoring:

1.  Change the way you does not equal success nor respect.
2.  The bigger the better is not always the best.
3.  STOP buying the latest technologies:  phone apps, video games for the kids or yourself, going to the MAC/apple store (supporting such habits is like a crackhead and alcoholic habits)
4.  Live simple and get rid of the TV and if possible limited your computer usage time to 3 times a week.  (your family will be happier when you reduced the time your are on the computer).  - this will stop the overwhelming desire to buy due to all the ads on those venues.
5.  Stop trying to be the Jones" or stop thinking you are the Jones.
6.  Rich people DONT spend money...they usually don't drive newer vehicles, live in an expensive house/condo or townhouse nor do their wear their money...they are usually simple looking people.
7. Don't go to big shopping stores like Walmart, Fred Meyer, Target etc., but once a month.  They overstock to make you want and buy.
8.  Stop eating out and start cooking home cooked meals.
9.  GET married and stay married.  Especially these divorce and single men.  And live simple.
10.  Stop eating so much and purchasing so much food...Americans eat for social and cultural reasons basically we eat just because we can.  We don't have to have breakfast, lunch and dinner EVERY single day.  
Feb 16, 2012 10:31PM
Somehow no one points to the generation group who are 70+ in age, were careful in making sure they went into retirement without a mortgage or any large monthly debts.  Most that I knew made sure to have a newer car, also paid for, that they could count on for at least the next 12-20 years if maintained properly.  Others went so far as to have updated appliances, and needed renovations completed on their residence.  These are the very folks who operate on a cash basis, i.e., all bills paid on time and in-full.  They have also learned to take advantage of every rebate and rewards put out by the banks!  We have learned to charge everything on a credit card, pay in full, accumulate the points, then ask for a rebate check.  Forget about airline miles!  Social Security alone is sufficient for daily living expenses.  Dividends, RMDs from IRA are used to have fun and travel with.  This will be the last generation to really have a great retired life.
Feb 17, 2012 7:07AM

I'm 56 and I owe 0$. .No bank accounts I don't buy into all the banking schemes and I won't put my money somewhere where the government can come and get it when it wants to. Besides the interest earned now is not worth the trouble.

Feb 17, 2012 2:12AM

I agree that 15% is outrageous and it's just wasting your income. On the other hand, just because someone has a credit card, doesn't mean they ever pay interest. I pay it off responsibly and have never paid a dime in interest. I refuse.
Feb 17, 2012 11:03AM
I rate all credit score systems a one, which I like to display with my finger. Can you guess  which one?
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