Crushed by student loan debt, millennials have the lowest credit scores of any generation, according to credit score data by credit bureau Experian.
The study found the nationwide average FICO score for millennials – people between the ages of 23 and 38 – is 665, compared to an average of 701 for all consumers. The averages were based on data from the fourth quarter of 2018, Experian said.
Millenials in New Jersey fared a little better with an average FICO score of 682 during the same time period, compared to an average of 712 for consumers across the state.
But the lower scores don’t mean millennials are doing something wrong, said Rod Griffin, director of consumer education and awareness at Experian.
“Millennials today do not have the same length of credit history or the mix of credit accounts as older generations,” Griffin said. “Many of them have a limited credit history.”
He said as people get older, their credit histories tend to grow naturally, resulting in better scores.
That shows in the numbers.
Those in their 70s or older had the highest credit scores on average at 756, while older New Jerseyans had an average of 757. They were followed by baby boomers, with a nationally average score of 732, while boomers averaged 738 in New Jersey.
The youngest group, those between 18 and 22, known as Generation Z, had the same average score as millennials nationally, the report said. They fared one point lower than millennials in New Jersey.
Debt was another measure in the data.
Millennials have an average total debt amount of $80,666, up 11 percent from 2017, the study found. The average millennial student debt was $34,770, up 8 percent from the year before, while the average credit card balance was $5,231, up 7 percent from the year before.
Jersey millennials, in comparison, have more debt that the national average. Total debt was $86,475. Part of that is student loan debt of $37,454 and credit card debt of $5,909, on average.
Who has it better?
The study found millennials in Minnesota have the highest average FICO scores at 698, just below the national average across generations.
The District of Columbia came next at 697, followed by North Dakota at 693, Massachusetts at 692 and South Dakota at 690.
The worst state for millennial credit scores is Mississippi, which had an average of 621, 44 points lower than the national average.
Alabama was the second lowest at 633, followed by South Carolina at 635, Louisiana at 636 and West Virginia at 637.
How to improve your credit score
If your credit score isn’t as high as you’d like, you can take steps to raise it.
Start by checking your credit report. You can do this for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.