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This generation has the highest credit score—what an expert says they should pay attention to

CNBC Select spoke with Experian's Rod Griffin about the silent generation's credit behaviors.

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At ages 74 and above, the silent generation is the oldest cohort of consumers out there.

However, it's thanks to their age — and long history of credit — that these consumers have the highest average credit score of all generations at 729.

In addition to having a lengthy credit history to show for, the silent generation also continues to decrease both the number of credit cards they carry and their revolving balances, according to Experian's latest State of Credit report.

Because the silent generation has made a habit over the years of paying off their credit card debt, the report shows that it certainly has helped them.

The silent generation also stands out for having the lowest credit utilization rate (or debt-to-credit ratio) of any generation at 13%, says Experian. This is significantly lower than the U.S. average of 25%, and with experts suggesting that a credit utilization rate below 10% gives consumers the best possible credit score, it's safe to say the older generation is doing something right.

To get a better idea of how the average 70-something consumer manages their credit, below is a snapshot of Experian's most recent data highlighting their generation.

Experian State of Credit Report: Silent Generation

Experian 2020 findings Silent Generation
Average VantageScore®729
Average number of credit cards2.78
Average credit card balance$3988
Average revolving utilization rate13%
Average number of retail credit cards2.21
Average retail credit card balance$1558
Average 30–59 days past due delinquency rates1.2%
Average 60–89 days past due delinquency rates0.7%
Average 90–180 days past due delinquency rates1.9%

Although the silent generation may be seeing the benefits that come with shrinking credit card balances over time, now's not the time to slack off.

Below, CNBC Select spoke with Rod Griffin, senior director of public education and advocacy for Experian, about what these consumers should be doing next.

A credit expert's advice for the silent generation

As consumers age, it's still important to show that they are using credit no matter how good their score may already be.

"It's important for older consumers to continue to maintain an active credit history so that it can be there for them when they need it," Griffin says. "As consumers age, they tend to use less of the credit that is available to them."

To maintain an active credit history, Griffin encourages older adults to use a credit card even if it means just paying a reoccurring bill every month. This way, you have an open credit account that shows lenders and issuers how you manage your debt and payments on that account(s). "To help credit scores, accounts need not just to be open, but also to show regular activity," Griffin says.

Tools like Experian Boost™ can help consumers of all ages get credit for their activity when they pay their monthly phone, internet, cable, utility (gas, electricity, water) and streaming payments like Netflix®HBO™, Hulu™ and Disney+™ on time. This free feature can help older consumers maintain an active credit history as they age as well.

In addition to regularly using a credit card, even if just for a small charge, silent generation consumers should also keep an eye on their credit in general.

"While I encourage all consumers to check their credit reports regularly, this is especially important for older Americans who may go longer periods without using credit or checking their reports," Griffin says.

Pulling your credit report often is a helpful way to spot any potentially fraudulent activity on your credit accounts, and you can do it for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. Consider also signing up for a free credit monitoring service, like CreditWise® from Capital One, that helps track and alerts you of changes to your credit score.

CreditWise® from Capital One

Information about CreditWise has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the company prior to publication.
  • Cost

    Free

  • Credit bureaus monitored

    TransUnion and Experian

  • Credit scoring model used

    VantageScore

  • Dark web scan

    Yes

  • Identity insurance

    No

Terms apply.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.