Baby Boomers Prove High Debt Doesn’t Equal Bad Credit

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It’s not impossible to have a lot of debt and a good credit score. Just look at baby boomers: They have the second-highest debt burden of any generation—but they also have the second-highest credit scores.

Baby boomers—people between the ages of 55 and 73—carry an average total debt of $95,095, according to Experian data for the fourth quarter of 2018. That’s the second-highest of any generation, following members of Generation X, who top the individual debt scales with an average total balance of $134,323.

When it comes to credit scores, however, baby boomers have an average FICO® Score*  of 732—45 points higher than Gen Xers. Baby boomers’ average of 732 is the second-highest of any generation, and is 31 points higher than the national average of 701.

“It may seem logical that more debt would always lead to lower credit scores, but that’s not the case,” Susan Henson, the Director of Community Engagement for Experian, said. “If debt is being well managed with on-time payments and credit cards are not maxed out, debt does not tank your credit scores.”

To learn more about baby boomers and their debt and credit, Experian analyzed data from the fourth quarter of 2018 to see how the generation held debt around the country. Read on to learn more.

Baby Boomer Debt in Some Cities Is More Than Double the National Average

Baby boomers in six U.S. cities had more than double the national average amount of student loan debt at $34,906, according to Experian data from the fourth quarter of 2018. At the same time, average FICO® Scores in these cities also remained significantly above the national average of 701. The national average for student loan debt among Baby Boomers was $33,812 in the fourth quarter of 2018 according to Experian data.

Top Cities for Baby Boomer Student Loan Debt in 2018

Top 25 Cities Average Student Loan Balance Average FICO® Score
Davis, CA $92,550 782
Santa Barbara, CA $83,224 762
Berkeley, CA $81,599 763
Santa Cruz, CA $78,681 760
Greenwich, CT $78,131 759
Cupertino, CA $72,583 786
La Jolla, CA $64,289 769
Danville, CA $62,114 784
Potomac, MD $60,367 784
Irvine, CA $58,541 754
Northbrook, IL $58,077 775
Manalapan, NJ $57,750 761
Estero, FL $57,683 774
Coral Gables, FL $56,885 738
Ponte Verda, FL $55,655 772
Santa Monica, CA $55,598 750
Palo Alto, CA $55,547 780
Elmhurst, IL $54,799 765
Cambridge, MA $54,438 753
Riverdale, GA $54,428 659
Newport Beach, CA $52,732 748
Upper Marlboro, MD $52,574 700
Astoria, NY $51,726 725
Conyers, GA $51,662 697
Buffalo Grove, IL $51,314 770

Source: Experian Q4 2018 data

Certain affluent U.S. cities also had close to or more than double the national average in credit card debt—which in the fourth quarter was $6,445—while still maintaining higher than average scores. This occurred in Greenwich, Connecticut; Beverly Hills, California; Newport Beach, California; Coral Gables, Florida; and Encino, California. The national average for credit card debt among Baby Boomers was $7,041 in the fourth quarter of 2018 according to Experian data.

Top Cities for Baby Boomer Credit Card Debt in 2018

Top 25 Cities Average Credit Card Balance Average FICO® Score
Greenwich, CT $16,855 759
Beverly Hills, CA $16,774 743
Newport Beach, CA $15,037 748
Coral Gables, FL $12,556 738
Encino, CA $12,265 750
La Jolla, CA $12,080 769
Laguna Beach, CA $12,044 757
Potomac, MD $11,926 784
Stafford, VA $11,745 741
Danville, CA $11,731 784
McLean, VA $11,587 780
Flower Mound, TX $11,415 761
Coppell, TX $11,382 757
Northbrook, IL $11,247 775
Alpharetta, GA $11,192 760
Fort Washington, MD $11,049 703
The Woodlands, TX $11,039 767
Leesburg, VA $11,033 758
Miami Beach, FL $10,973 721
Bethesda, MD $10,958 778
Ponte Vedra, FL $10,818 772
Sherman Oaks, CA $10,817 742
Bowie, MD $10,734 721
Frisco, TX $10,728 741
Woodland Hills, CA $10,727 739

Source: Experian Q4 2018 data

Across other debt products, baby boomers in several affluent cities carried debt that in some cases was more than 10 times the national average. In Princeton, New Jersey, for example, they carried an average balance of $229,408 in personal loans, over 10 times the national average of $16,249. And again in Beverly Hills, California, baby boomers’ average mortgage balance exceeded $1.2 million, more than six times the national average.

Overall, of the baby boomers who had carried high individual debt, most were able to do so while maintaining an above average credit score. Additionally, baby boomers in wealthy areas tended to carry higher balances, racking up in some cases several times the national average.

If you’re a baby boomer and want to understand more about your current debt and credit situation, consider getting a free copy of your credit reports and scores from Experian to understand what’s in your credit file.

Want to instantly increase your credit score? Experian Boost helps by giving you credit for the utility and mobile phone bills you’re already paying. Until now, those payments did not positively impact your score.

This service is completely free and can boost your credit scores fast by using your own positive payment history. It can also help those with poor or limited credit situations. Other services such as credit repair may cost you up to thousands and only help remove inaccuracies from your credit report.

Methodology: The analysis results provided are based on an Experian-created statistically relevant aggregate sampling of our consumer credit database that may include use of the FICO® Score 8 version. Different sampling parameters may generate different findings compared with other similar analysis. Analyzed credit data did not contain personal identification information. Metro areas group counties and cities into specific geographic areas for population censuses and compilations of related statistical data.

FICO® is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the U.S. and other countries.

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