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Baby boomers have an average of $25,812 of debt, not including mortgages — here's how they compare to other generations

New Experian data finds that baby boomers have an average of $25,812 in credit card, auto loan and student loan debt.

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You might think that baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964 according to Pew Research Center) would be past their debt-carrying years. After all, more than 28 million boomers retired in 2020, a major increase compared to previous years, due in part to the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike younger generations, who are still working, covering child-care expenses and buying homes at higher rates, today's retirees are trying to navigate how to live off of their savings and investments during a time when the stock market is particularly volatile.

But not everyone who retires does so debt-free, however ideal it may sound. Recent data from the Federal Reserve shows that older consumers are carrying debt well into retirement, including mortgages, car loans, personal loans and even credit card balances.

So how is all that debt impacting the average boomer's credit score? According to Experian's 2020 State of Credit report, the average boomer has a 716 VantageScore®, which is considered to be good and/or prime.

Boomers carry an average credit card balance of $6,747 and $25,812 in total nonmortgage debt (including credit cards, store cards, personal loans and other nonmortgage accounts). They have a 3.2% delinquency rate for accounts 90 to 180 days past due.

Boomer homeowners carry an average mortgage debt of $191,650.

Here's a full break down of Experian's 2020 findings by generation:

2020 State of Credit Findings

2020 findings by generation Gen Z (ages 24 and younger) Millennials / Gen Y (ages 25 to 40) Gen X (ages 41 to 56) Boomers (ages 57 to 74) Silent (ages 75 and above)
Average VantageScore® 654658676716729
Average number of credit cards1.642.663.33.452.78
Average credit card balance$2197$4651$7718$6747$3988
Average revolving utilization rate30%30%32%24%13%
Average number of retail credit cards1.642.12.592.632.21
Average retail credit card balance$1124$1871$2353$2100$1558
Average non-mortgage debt$10942$27251$32878$25812$12869
Average mortgage debt$172561$232372$245127$191650$159517
Average 30–59 days past due delinquency rates1.60%2.70%3.30%2.20%1.20%
Average 60–89 days past due delinquency rates1.00%1.50%1.80%1.20%0.70%
Average 90–180 days past due delinquency rates2.50%4.40%5.30%3.20%1.90%

Source: Experian

How to get out of debt

Baby boomers may feel more pressure than younger generations to pay off their accounts before old age, especially if you're planning to live on a more limited income of Social Security and retirement savings.

If debt keeps you up at night, start to make a plan to pay it off. Start by pulling your free credit report and sign up for a free credit monitoring service so you have a clear picture of just how much you owe.

CreditWise® from Capital One shows an overview of all your credit card and loan balances, and it's available to anyone whether they have a Capital One credit card or not. An alternative is Experian free credit monitoring, which is helpful for tracking your balances as you devise your debt payoff plan.

Need to pay off debt?: Follow this plan to achieve financial freedom, according to a financial expert who paid off $87,000

With mortgage rates at a historic low, it's important to remember that not all debt is created equal. If you feel overwhelmed by your various debts, start by tackling the highest-interest debt first and find ways to lower the APR on other balances. You could consider refinancing your home to save on your mortgage payment, or look into a balance transfer credit card so you can pay your credit cards off interest-free for a period of up to 20 months.

Best 0% APR credit cards for balance transfers

One low-cost way to get out of debt is to complete a balance transfer. Move debt from high-interest credit card(s) over to one that offers no interest for a certain length of time. You'll pay a small fee (usually 3% of the balance), but you could save a lot more than you would pay in interest charges.

Balance transfer cards often have set maximum limits on how much debt you can transfer, so make sure to read the fine print before you apply. You also can't complete a transfer between cards issued from the same bank.

You'll need good or excellent credit (scores 670 and greater) to be a competitive applicant for balance transfer cards, especially during the current pandemic when many financial institutions have tightened their lending. The average baby boomer is well within this credit score range, but every application is evaluated individually and there are no guarantees for approval. Check your odds of getting approved ahead of time if you're concerned.

Here are some of the best 0% APR cards for balance transfers.

Intro 0% APR for 21 months

Wells Fargo Reflect® Card

On Wells Fargo's secure site
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% intro APR for 21 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers.

  • Regular APR

    18.24%, 24.74%, or 29.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, min: $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Long introductory APR period on purchases and qualifying balance transfers
  • Access to Visa Signature® Concierge
  • Get up to $600 cell phone protection (subject to a $25 deductible)
  • Access to My Wells Fargo Deals to earn cash back in the form of an account credit when shopping, dining

Cons

  • No rewards
  • No welcome bonus
  • 3% fee charged on foreign transactions

Citi Simplicity® Card

On Citi's Secure Site
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening.

  • Regular APR

    19.24% - 29.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Balances can be transferred within 4 months from account opening
  • One of the longest intro periods for balance transfers

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No rewards program

Intro 0% APR for 18 months

Citi Double Cash® Card

  • Rewards

    Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time. Plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases

  • Regular APR

    19.24% - 29.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    For balance transfers completed within 4 months of account opening, an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies; after that, a balance transfer fee of 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Fair/Good/Excellent

  • See rates and fees, terms apply.

Pros

  • 2% cash back on all eligible purchases
  • Simple cash-back program that doesn't require activation or spending caps
  • One of the longest intro periods for balance transfers at 18 months

Cons

  • 3% fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $443
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,213

Intro 0% APR for 15 months

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024, 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases, earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; Terms apply, 3% cash back on dining and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), 3% cash back on popular streaming services and entertainment, and 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months

  • Regular APR

    19.99% - 29.99% variable 

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for the first 15 months; 4% at a promotional APR that Capital One may offer you at any other time

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • See rates and fees, terms apply.

Pros

  • 3% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases
  • Ability to redeem rewards at any amount, unlike some other cards with $25 minimums
  • Competitive special financing offer on both new purchases and balance transfers
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • 3% balance transfer fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

On Wells Fargo's secure site
  • Rewards

    Unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate

  • Regular APR

    20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% intro for 120 days from account opening then BT fee of up to 5%, min: $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

Pros

  • Unlimited cash rewards
  • $200 cash rewards welcome bonus
  • No annual fee
  • Introductory APR period for first 15 months
  • Access to Visa Signature® Concierge
  • Get up to $600 cell phone protection (subject to a $25 deductible)

Cons

  • 3% fee charged on foreign transactions
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.
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