Millennials are the generation with the fastest growing debt load, which isn't surprising when you consider this cohort is increasingly having children, buying homes and continuing to pay off their student loans. According to the Experian 2020 State of Credit report, the average millennial consumer has about $27,251 in non-mortgage debt, and millennial homeowners have an average mortgage balance of $232,372.
While Millennials' average credit card balance is $4,651, most have their payment plans under control. Just 2.7% of millennials have fallen behind on their payments for 30 to 59 days, and even fewer (1.5%) are 60 to 89 days behind. The delinquency rate for 90- to 180-days-past-due accounts is 4.4%.
Here's a full break down of Experian's 2020 findings.
The average millennial's VantageScore® is 658. While positive credit history is one factor in determining your credit score, it's not the only one, so millennials can't exactly blame their mediocre scores on their youth.
With a score of 658, millennials sit right on the cusp of having a prime credit score, which can help improve their chances of getting approved for the best financial products and interest rates. The difference between having a 658 credit score and one higher than 660 is significant and well worth working toward.
CreditWise® from Capital One is a free credit monitoring service that delivers account holders their weekly updated VantageScore in addition to offering dark web scanning and social security number tracking.
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We also recommend Experian free credit monitoring, which uses the popular FICO scoring model and shows you all of your credit cards and loans, plus their balances, in one place. This makes it easy to track your on-time payments and keep an eye on your credit usage so that it stays at a manageable level.
Yes, one-time only
Once you know where you stand, there are five easy steps you can take to improve and/or maintain your score.
Paying your bills on time is the most important thing you can do to help raise your score. Both FICO and VantageScore, which are two of the main credit card scoring models, view payment history as the most influential factor. Even if you can't pay the full balance, always pay the minimum at least.
If you struggle to remember to pay your bills on time each month, link your credit card to your checking account and approve a monthly autodraft to pay your bills. After a few months of regular on-time payments, you'll be surprised at how much autopay boosts and then protects your score.
Don't miss: 6 tips for choosing the best checking account
FICO and VantageScore look at the number of credit inquiries you have. Every time you apply for a new credit card or loan, or even ask for a credit limit increase, you could add another inquiry to your report. If you want a new card, but you're not sure you'll qualify, you can submit a pre-qualification form online, which shouldn't impact your score.
Your credit utilization rate (CUR) is the total amount of credit you are using compared to your available limit. Experts recommend you try to keep this under 10% — so if you have a $10,000 credit limit, avoid carrying more than $1,000 balance at any one time. Lowering your CUR should lead to a boost in your score.
Get credit on your credit report for paying your utility bills, streaming subscriptions and cell phone payments on time by signing up for Experian Boost™. The way Experian Boost works is simple: Just connect your bank account(s) to your Experian Boost account. It will identify your utility, telecom and streaming service payment history — that includes Netflix®, HBO Max™ and others. Verify the data and confirm you want it added to your Experian credit file, then you'll get an updated FICO score delivered to you in real time. (This service will only help you improve your FICO score.)