Categories

Research

Debt Reaches New Highs in 2019, but Credit Scores Stay Strong

As the U.S. economy entered its 11th consecutive year of expansion, consumer confidence was near record levels. At the same time, debt was also on the rise, surpassing pre-recession levels and reaching historic highs.

Consumer debt has increased nearly $2.3 trillion since the height of the Great Recession in 2009—growing across almost all debt products to top $14 trillion in 2019. And while high debt often carries a negative connotation, the good news is the average FICO® Scores of U.S. consumers have never been higher. At the same time, overall delinquency rates are at record lows, according to Experian data, showing that consumers are not only spending, but are generally doing so responsibly.

In addition to responsible repayment, incomes in the U.S. are growing at a rate that is outpacing the growth of debt. Consumers have a significantly lower debt-to-income (DTI) ratio now than they did at the end of the recession—a sign growing wages are contributing to overall financial stability.

To learn more about U.S. consumer debt trends, Experian's annual Consumer Debt Study analyzed credit and borrowing data from 2009 and 2019. This report identifies trends and insights that help explain the condition of consumer debt and credit in the U.S. and how it has changed in the past decade, especially as consumers recovered from the Great Recession. Read on for our insights and analysis.

Consumer Debt Reaches Record High in 2019

Overall, consumer debt in the U.S. has grown 19% since 2009 to its current record high of $14.1 trillion, according to Experian data. And as debt in aggregate has grown, so have the totals in nearly every debt category—with some, such as student loans, more than doubling in that time.

Broken out by debt type, all balances except those from HELOCs have increased by at least double-digit percentages in the past decade. Student loan debt has grown the most, increasing 113% (or $746 billion) since 2009. Auto debt saw the second-largest growth, increasing 81% ($584 billion) during the same time. And while mortgage debt saw more moderate growth of just 14% since 2009, its growth represented the largest monetary increase—$1.2 trillion—of any debt product.

Growth by Debt Type Since 2009
TypeTotal Debt 2009Total Debt 2019% Change
Mortgage$8.4T$9.6T+14%
Auto loan$716B$1.3T+81%
Student loan$658B$1.4T+113%
Credit card$700B$829B+18%
HELOC$729B$420B-42%
Personal loan$237B$305B+29%
Retail card$59B$90B+51%

Source: Experian

Consumer Income Growth Outpaces Debt Since Recession

As consumer debt balances have grown across the U.S., so, too, has income. In fact, since 2009, personal income has outpaced total debt, reducing consumer DTI ratios.

Indeed, consumer debt as a portion of income has decreased 27% since the end of the financial crisis, according to Experian data that measured average personal income against average total personal debt. Along with other measures of creditworthiness, DTI is used when evaluating a consumer for a new loan. Typically, the lower a consumer's DTI, the more apt lenders are to extend them new credit.

Consumer Debt and Income Since 2009
20092018
Average personal income$38,213$50,413
Average total debt$94,442$90,460

Sources: Debt figures from Experian; income figures from the Census Bureau

Only Personal Loan, HELOC Balances Decreased Over Past Decade

With the exception of HELOCs and personal loans, average balances have increased across all credit products since 2009.

Similar to the overall national debt trend, average student loan balances saw the largest increase in the past decade—growing more than $15,000, or 73%. Auto debt experienced the second-largest growth, and retail credit card debt followed with the third-highest increase.

Average Debt Balances by Type
TypeAvg. Balance 2009Avg. Balance 2019% Change
Mortgage$190,703$203,296+7%
Auto loan$15,387$19,231+25%
Student loan$20,560$35,620+73%
Credit card$5,856$6,194+6%
HELOC $51,750$45,191-13%
Personal loan$18,410$16,259-12%
Retail card$948$1,155+22%

Source: Experian

Taking a look at more recent consumer debt trends, Experian recently surveyed over 400 people and found that 47% saw their debt increase in 2019. Only 30% of consumers surveyed said their debt decreased, and 22% reported maintaining the same debt level in 2019 as the previous year.

Breaking down the different debt types consumers carried in 2019, Experian data shows:

  • 60% of consumers had a credit card.
  • 30% of consumers had an auto loan.
  • 25% of consumers had a mortgage.
  • 24% of consumers had a retail card.
  • 11% of consumers had a personal loan.
  • 10% of consumers had a student loan.
  • 5% of consumers had a HELOC.

Nearly All States Have Seen Large Debt Growth Since 2009

Across the country, consumer debt has increased in every state since 2009. Some states saw spikes of over 75%, while others experienced modest growth of less than 10%. The average growth rate across all states was 25%, and most states—29 of 51 (including Washington, D.C.)—saw average or less-than-average growth. The other 22 states saw higher-than-average growth, and the top three states' debt grew by more than 45%.

Texas, North Dakota and South Dakota had the highest increases in overall debt among the states over the past decade. Despite spikes in debt growth, however, the Dakotas continue to rank near the bottom for overall debt totals.

Four states consistently in the top 10th percentile for highest consumer debt volume were among states that experienced the least debt growth in the past decade. California, Florida, Illinois and New York saw relatively modest debt growth of under 20%.

Total Consumer Debt Growth Across U.S. States
StateTotal Debt 2009Total Debt 2019% Change
North Dakota$15.5B $27.2B+76%
Texas$637.1B$1.01T+59%
South Dakota$20.3B$29.6B+46%
Iowa$72.7B$101.4B+40%
Louisiana$104.6B$146.5B+40%
Montana$28.7B$40.3B+40%
Utah$106.7B$149.6B+40%
Mississippi$52.9B$73.8B+39%
South Carolina$135B$188B+39%
Arkansas$59.7B$82B+37%
District of Columbia$36.1B$49.4B+37%
Nebraska$46B$63B+37%
Tennessee$171.1B$232.8B+36%
Oklahoma$79.9B$107.8B+35%
Colorado$254.1B$341.5B+34%
Idaho$54.3B$71.7B+32%
Wyoming$18.5B$24.3B+32%
West Virginia$36.1B$46.8B+30%
Alaska$25.8B$33.1B+28%
North Carolina$291.7B$371.9B+28%
Alabama$118.5B$150.3B+27%
Washington$338.9B$423.4B+25%
Delaware$37.4B$46.6B+24%
Kentucky$99.5B$123.5B+24%
Georgia$344.8B$423.7B+23%
Oregon$162.7B$200.1B+23%
Hawaii$69.2B$84.7B+22%
Pennsylvania$397.4B$483.5B+22%
Indiana$176.8B$214.1B+21%
Kansas$73.8B$89.1B+21%
Massachusetts$321.7B$389.9B+21%
Missouri$167.6B$201.4B+20%
Vermont$21.3B$25.5B+20%
Virginia$401B$480.7B+20%
Maine$43.2B$50.9B+18%
Maryland$320.2B$375.4B+17%
Wisconsin$172.3B$202.3B+17%
New York$704.1B$819.1B+16%
Minnesota$215.1B$247.7B+15%
New Hampshire$58.6B$67.5B+15%
Florida$771.8B$878.3B+14%
Ohio$341B$383.5B+12%
Rhode Island$42.1B$47B+12%
New Mexico$61.3B$68B+11%
Arizona$284.3B$310.7B+9%
New Jersey$428.6B$468.6B+9%
Michigan$316.3B$340.3B+8%
California$2.25T$2.39T+6%
Connecticut$179.1B$188.9B+5%
Illinois$497.7B$514.3B+3%
Nevada$134.6B$138.4B+3%

Source: Experian data, in billions (B) and trillions (T)

Millennials Lead in Overall Debt Growth

Among the different age groups, borrowing trends are clear: Older generations are borrowing less, while younger generations are doing the opposite. Younger generations tend to have FICO® Scores below the national average, but their debt is growing quickly.

Since 2015 (a shortened analysis period due to consumer borrowing ages), millennials—people ages 24 to 39—saw the largest increase in their total average debt: 58%. The Generation Z cohort analyzed for this study—adults ages 18 to 23—saw the second-highest jump of 22%, followed by members of Generation X—ages 40 to 55—whose total individual debt grew 10%.

Members of the older generations—baby boomers, ages 56 to 74, and the silent generation, ages 75 and above—saw their balances decrease, a signal that those consumers are entering or nearing retirement and may be borrowing less.

Average Total Debt Change by Generation
GenerationAvg. Debt 2015Avg. Debt 2019% Change
Generation Z$7,866$9,593+22%
Millennials$49,722$78,396+58%
Generation X$123,521$135,841+10%
Baby boomers$104,824$96,984-7.5%
Silent generation$44,342$40,925-7.7%

Source: Experian

Highest Debt Balances Held by Consumers With "Very Good" Credit

Looking at consumer debt by FICO® Score range, Experian found that consumers with a FICO® Score of 740 to 799, considered very good by many lenders, carried the most debt on average. People with FICO® Scores from 670 to 739 carried the second-highest average debt, and those with the best scores—800 to 850—carried the third-highest average debt.

Consumers with very poor FICO® Scores of 579 and below carry the least debt. Creditworthiness, measured by credit scores and other factors, often determines whether a consumer is approved for new credit. So it's not surprising that those in the lowest range may struggle to access loans and thus carry less debt.

Average Consumer Debt by FICO® Score Range
Credit CardRetail CardAuto LoanPersonal LoanStudent LoanMortgageHELOC
300-579
(Very poor)
$3,446$1,588$16,435$6,787$32,690$147,227$58,633
580-669
(Fair)
$6,489$1,820$19,811$10,187$36,264$163,986$55,227
670-739
(Good)
$9,712$1,730$21,003$17,333$36,948$202,176$58,252
740-799
(Very good)
$6,051$845$19,690$23,951$37,851$216,724$49,026
800-850
(Exceptional)
$3,616$370$18,011$28,864$32,308$213,315$36,470

Source: Experian 2019 data

Delinquency Rates Down Since 2009

The average delinquency rate—the percentage of accounts 30 to 59 days past due (DPD)—across all debt categories declined by 38% in the past decade. Payments 60 to 89 DPD saw the largest decrease, falling by 55%, and severely delinquent accounts—those 90 to 180 DPD—saw the second-greatest decline of 44% since 2009.

The decline in delinquencies is one factor that has likely contributed to increasing consumer debt levels and credit scores over the past decade. Payment history is the most important factor used in calculating credit scores, and multiple late or missed payments can seriously hurt scores and impede consumers' access to new credit products. When consumers consistently make debt payments on time every month, however, credit scores often rise, providing increased borrowing opportunity for those seeking loans or credit cards.

Delinquency Rates Across All Debt Types
Delinquency Period20092019Percent Change
% of accounts 30-59 DPD1.63%1.01%-38%
% of accounts 60-89 DPD0.94%0.42%-55%
% of accounts 90-180 DPD2.35%1.30%-44%

Source: Experian

The data is echoed by Experian's survey results, which found 87% of consumers are at least somewhat confident when it comes to making all of their debt payments on time. Of those, 65% reported being very or extremely confident in making their debt payments and 60% said they had not missed a debt payment in the past seven years. This positive outlook toward making timely debt payments underscores that while consumers may have high debt, many are handling it responsibly.

Younger Generations Struggle More With Payments

While overall delinquency rates are down, certain generations still struggle more than others when it comes to making payments on time. Members of Generation Z are having the most trouble, according to data from Q3 2019, with 12.24% of their accounts 30 or more DPD. Millennials came next with 10.48% of accounts 30 or more DPD.

Delinquency Rates by Generation
Generation% of Trades 30
or More DPD
% of Trades 60
or More DPD
% of Trades 90
or More DPD
Generation Z12.24%0.78%0.82%
Millennials10.48%0.59%0.66%
Generation X7.75%0.52%0.45%
Baby boomers3.85%0.27%0.21%
Silent generation2.44%0.20%0.14%

Source: Experian data from Q3 2019

A Look at Consumer Debt by Product

To provide a better understanding of how individual debt categories affect overall debt totals, we looked at the numbers by type of credit product.

Credit Card Debt

  • The average FICO® Score among consumers with a credit card is 713.
  • Alaska has the highest average credit card balance per person among states with $8,026.
  • Beverly Hills, California, has the highest average credit card balance per person among cities with $13,920.

Credit card debt was the most popular form of credit held by borrowers in 2019, with over 60% of the American adult population carrying it. Credit cards are one of the easiest credit products to obtain, and with some credit cards' low barrier of entry, they are often considered the best beginner tool to launch or build a good credit history.

Overall, there was $829 billion in outstanding credit card debt in 2019—an increase of $129 billion, or 18%, since 2009. Individually, consumers owed an average of $6,194, a jump of just 6% in the past decade.

Outside of HELOCs and student loans, credit cards have the lowest rate of delinquent accounts 30 to 59 DPD.

Delinquency Rates for Credit Card Debt
Delinquency Period20092019Percent Change
% of accounts 30-59 DPD0.95%0.69%-27%
% of accounts 60-89 DPD0.64%0.41%-36%
% of accounts 90-180 DPD1.70%0.91%-46%

Source: Experian

Generation X, as with most other types of debt, carries the highest credit card balances of any age group, owing an average of $8,215 in 2019. Baby boomers follow with less average credit card debt of $6,949, and millennials have the next-highest average credit card debt of $4,889.

While millennial credit card debt may lag behind baby boomers, Experian found that millennials actually spend more than baby boomers on the credit cards they do have—showing their balances could catch up soon.

Average Credit Card Balance by Generation
GenerationBalance
Generation Z$2,230
Millennials$4,889
Generation X$8,215
Baby boomers$6,949
Silent generation$3,715

Source: Experian 2019 data

Metro areas with top credit card balances were spread across the country in 2019, with two of the top three areas in Alaska, which is also the state where consumers owe the most in credit card debt. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut, the metro area with the highest credit card balance, was also one of the top 10 MSAs when it came to highest mortgage debt.

Average Consumer Credit Card Debt by Metropolitan Statistical Area
Metro AreaAvg. FICO® ScoreAvg. Balance
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT723$8,679
Anchorage, AK707$8,212
Fairbanks, AK702$7,953
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-VA-MD-WV716$7,648
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC688$7,586
Austin-Round Rock, TX704$7,329
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA724$7,306
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX686$7,291
Napa, CA725$7,240
San Antonio, TX678$7,210

Source: Experian 2019 data. Average FICO® Scores are among all consumers in each MSA.

Read more about consumer credit card debt in Experian's Consumer Credit Card study.

Mortgage Debt

  • The average FICO® Score among consumers with a mortgage is 747.
  • Washington, D.C., has the highest average mortgage balance among states with $421,499.
  • The city of Beverly Hills, California, has the highest mortgage balance among cities with $1,268,034.

Although only a quarter of U.S. consumers had a home loan in 2019, mortgage debt is the largest of all the debt types by overall volume and accounts for the highest individual total balances among consumers. Overall there was $9.6 trillion in total outstanding mortgage debt in 2019, up 14% or $1.2 trillion over the past decade.

And while mortgage debt saw one of the more modest increases over time, the total new home loan debt in the past decade is nearly equal to the combined total of personal loan, credit card and retail card debt over that same period.

Overall, mortgage delinquencies decreased across the board. The most significant area of improvement since 2009—a drop of 79%—is among the mortgage accounts that were 90 to 180 DPD, or severely past due. Delinquency rates for accounts 30 to 59 DPD have decreased 41% since 2009, but 1.5% of accounts still remain one to two months past due.

The high rate of mortgage delinquency during 2009 can be attributed to the Great Recession, which hit the housing market especially hard. As a growing number of people defaulted on their home loan payments, a wave of foreclosures occurred. The housing market has bounced back since then, as shown in today's record high of outstanding mortgage debt and decreasing delinquent accounts across the board.

Delinquency Rates for Mortgage Debt
Delinquency Period20092019Percent Change
% of accounts 30-59 DPD2.58%1.53%-41%
% of accounts 60-89 DPD1.27%0.49%-61%
% of accounts 90-180 DPD2.24%0.47%-79%

Source: Experian

In line with the national trend, members of Generation X carry the most mortgage debt, with an average balance of $238,344 in 2019. Millennials have the second-highest average mortgage balance of $224,500.

Average Mortgage Balance by Generation
GenerationBalance
Generation Z$142,600
Millennials$224,500
Generation X$238,344
Baby boomers$175,865
Silent generation$132,025

Source: Experian 2019 data

Looking at metro areas, top average mortgage balances in 2019 were concentrated in California, which is also the state that carries the second-highest average mortgage balance overall. With the exception of the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut, and Honolulu, Hawaii, metro areas, all other areas with the highest average mortgage balances were located in California.

Average Consumer Mortgage Debt by Metropolitan Statistical Area
Metro AreaAvg. FICO® ScoreAvg. Balance
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA737$522,076
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA733$482,487
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA719$412,036
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA705$410,665
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA727$396,036
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA712$388,100
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA719$385,945
Napa, CA 725$380,124
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT723$370,021
Honolulu, HI 727$367,000

Source: Experian 2019 data. Average FICO® Scores are among all consumers in each MSA.

Read more about consumer mortgage debt in Experian's Mortgage Loan Study.

Auto Loan Debt

  • The average FICO® Score among consumers with an auto loan is 705.
  • Wyoming has the highest average auto loan balance among states with $24,368.
  • Midland, Texas, has the highest auto loan balance among cities with $33,847.

Auto debt is another debt category that is unavoidable for many consumers. Over 85% of new cars and 56% of used cars are financed, according to Experian. Overall, this reliance on auto loans has grown significantly since 2009, and auto loans now represent the third-largest type of debt with over $1.3 trillion in total outstanding auto balances. That's an increase of 81% or $584 billion, the second-greatest increase among debt products since 2009.

Despite the massive growth in auto loan debt, delinquencies have seen consistent decreases across all delinquency periods.

Delinquency Rates for Auto Debt
Delinquency Period20092019Percent Change
% of accounts 30-59 DPD3.03%2.11%-30%
% of accounts 60-89 DPD0.79%0.65%-18%
% of accounts 90-180 DPD0.44%0.33%-25%

Source: Experian

While the difference in average auto debt balances between young and old generations was not as drastic as with other types of debt, Generation X, baby boomers and millennials still carry the top average auto debt balances. Balances among the silent generation are now the second-lowest, beating only the balance held by Generation Z—the youngest generation—by less than $200 per borrower.

Average Auto Loan Balance by Generation
GenerationBalance
Generation Z$14,272
Millennials$18,201
Generation X$21,570
Baby boomers$18,759
Silent generation$14,498

Source: Experian 2019 data

Similar to California's concentration of mortgage balances, all but one of the top average auto loan balances by metro area were located in Texas. Unlike the areas with high average mortgage balances, though, metro areas with the highest average auto debt also had average FICO® Scores below the national average of 703.

Average Consumer Auto Debt by Metropolitan Statistical Area
Metro AreaAvg. FICO® ScoreAvg. Balance
Odessa, TX653$34,119
Midland, TX676$33,951
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX645$28,210
Victoria, TX669$26,418
Corpus Christi, TX660$26,409
Laredo, TX649$26,278
Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX668$26,086
Farmington, NM661$26,059
San Angelo, TX674$25,401
Abilene, TX675$25,302

Source: Experian 2019 data. Average FICO® Scores are among all consumers in each MSA.

Read more about consumer auto debt in Experian's Auto Loan Study.

Personal Loan Debt

  • The average FICO® Score among consumers with a personal loan is 681.
  • Washington has the highest average personal loan balance among states with $27,188.
  • Princeton, New Jersey, has the highest personal loan balance among cities with $78,407.

Since 2009, personal loan balances have seen one of the smaller increases among debt products, growing only $68 billion. Not only did they see the third-smallest rate of growth during that time—following only mortgages and credit card debt—but the increase itself was the smallest by value of any type of debt.

But times are changing. Though personal loan balances grew only slightly in the past decade, over the past year this debt type has become the fastest-growing debt category, with the total balance increasing 12% from 2018 to 2019 alone. This recent increase is due at least in part to the growing popularity of financial technology—fintech—lenders, which often offer easy online applications and alternative measures of creditworthiness. Indeed, fintechs doubled their market share from 2015 to 2019 and now make up nearly 50% of the personal loan marketplace.

Personal loans saw some improvement in delinquency rates, shrinking severely delinquent accounts—accounts 90 to 180 DPD—by 31% since 2009. Accounts that are 30 to 59 DPD and 90 to 180 DPD still have a relatively high percentage of delinquencies when compared with other types of debt.

Delinquency Rates for Personal Loan Debt
Delinquency Type20092019Percent Change
% of accounts 30-59 DPD2.10%1.46%-30%
% of accounts 60-89 DPD1.05%0.78%-25%
% of accounts 90-180 DPD2.00%1.37%-31%

Source: Experian

Baby boomers carried the highest average personal loan debt of any generation in 2019. Generation X and the silent generation followed with the next-highest balances. When it comes to personal loans, there is a clear generational divide between younger generations and older generations. As personal loans are often used for home improvement and consolidation of other mounting debt, younger generations may have less need for personal loans than older groups.

Average Personal Loan Balance by Generation
GenerationBalance
Generation Z$4,526
Millennials$11,819
Generation X$17,175
Baby boomers$19,253
Silent generation$17,067

Source: Experian 2019 data

Of the top metro areas for personal loans, four of the top 10 highest balances were located in Washington state. Three more were clustered in Arizona, and the rest were spread across the West Coast and one in Pennsylvania.

Average Consumer Personal Loan Debt by Metropolitan Statistical Area
Metro AreaAverage FICO® ScoreAverage Balance
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA733$42,219
Prescott, AZ720$38,543
Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA724$35,887
Bend, OR 723$35,525
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA724$33,516
Williamsport, PA710$31,958
Bellingham, WA731$31,644
Wenatchee, WA725$31,157
Flagstaff, AZ698$31,149
Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ696$30,665

Source: Experian 2019 data. Average FICO® Scores are among all consumers in each MSA.

Read more about consumer personal loan debt in Experian's Personal Loan Study.

Student Loan Debt

  • The average FICO® Score among consumers with a student loan is 682.
  • Washington, D.C., has the highest average student loan balance among states with $56,000.
  • Davis, California, has the highest student loan balance among cities with $82,754.

Despite only 10% of Americans carrying a student loan, this debt is the third-largest consumer debt type by total balance. Student loan balances totaled over $1.4 trillion in 2019, a 113% increase since 2009.

Along with the swell in overall student loan debt, individual average balances have increased by 73%, growing from $20,560 to $35,620 since 2009. Student loans only rank behind mortgage and HELOCs in highest average balances.

Though student loan debt has grown at an unprecedented rate, the percentage of delinquent accounts has decreased dramatically. Overall, delinquency rates among student loan accounts have decreased more than that of any other debt type since 2009. The percentage of accounts 30 to 59 DPD and 60 to 89 DPD declined by 93% and 92%, respectively, highlighting a transformation in how consumers approach their student loans today.

Delinquency Rates for Student Loan Debt
Delinquency Period20092019Percent Change
% of accounts 30-59 DPD0.66%0.04%-93%
% of accounts 60-89 DPD1.80%0.14%-92%
% of accounts 90-180 DPD7.24%5.75%-21%

Source: Experian

Members of Generation X carry the highest average student loan balances of $39,981, closely trailed by baby boomers at $34,957 and millennials at $34,795.

As Generation Z and younger millennials attend college and especially graduate school, their average student loan balances can be expected to rise based on the increased cost of attendance at many colleges.

Average Student Loan Balance by Generation
GenerationBalance
Generation Z$12,495
Millennials$34,795
Generation X$39,981
Baby boomers$34,957
Silent generation$25,332

Source: Experian 2019 data

Unlike other types of debt, there were no clear geographic concentrations of metro areas with top student loan balances. A more ubiquitous debt, high student loan balances were spread across the U.S.

Average Consumer Student Loan Debt by Metropolitan Statistical Area
Metro AreaAvg. FICO® ScoreAvg. Balance
Durham, NC712$47,276
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA727$46,694
Ann Arbor, MI729$46,415
Corvalis, OR738$45,103
Gainesville, FL699$44,473
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA733$44,321
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-VA-MD-WV716$44,312
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA688$43,355
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA719$43,127
Charlottesville, VA730$43,082

Source: Experian 2019 data. Average FICO® Scores are among all consumers in each MSA.

Read more about student loan debt in Experian's Student Loan Study.

HELOC Debt

  • The average FICO® Score among consumers with a HELOC is 773.
  • Washington, D.C., has the highest average HELOC balance among states with $78,524.
  • Beverly Hills, California, has the highest HELOC balance among cities with $223,305.

Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) are the only type of debt in the U.S. that saw balances decrease in the past 10 years. Since 2009, overall HELOC debt shrank by 42% or $309 billion—a trend that opposes all other debt growth patterns during the past decade.

HELOC debt (based on data that extends back to 2006) grew throughout the recession years, peaking in 2009, when outstanding balances totaled a record $729 billion. Since then, HELOC debt has been on a steady decline, a shift that could be attributable to the decrease in home values following the recession. As home values soared in the years leading up to the Great Recession, consumers may have grown increasingly confident using their home's equity as a line of credit. As this trend reversed and home values plummeted during and after the recession, the popularity of HELOCs as a borrowing option declined.

Delinquency rates for HELOCs have decreased across the board, most significantly seeing an 82% reduction in severely behind accounts (those 90 to 180 DPD).

Delinquency Rates for HELOC Debt
Delinquency Type20092019Percent Change
% of accounts 30-59 DPD0.83%0.40%-52%
% of accounts 60-89 DPD0.43%0.14%-67%
% of accounts 90-180 DPD1.12%0.20%-82%

Source: Experian

As with other types of debt, Generation X, followed by baby boomers and millennials, hold the highest HELOC balances of any generation. Though members of Generation Z have higher average mortgage debt than members of the silent generation, the opposite is true for HELOCs, a nod to the declining popularity of HELOCs as a loan type.

Average HELOC Balance by Generation
GenerationBalance
Generation Z$32,854
Millennials$41,239
Generation X$49,221
Baby boomers$45,006
Silent generation$38,767

Source: Experian 2019 data

HELOC balances were highest in places where mortgage balances—and, presumably, home values—were among the highest in 2019. California was home to four of the top 10 metro areas; Florida was home to two of the top 10; and the others were scattered through Florida, Texas and the states surrounding New York City.

Average Consumer HELOC Debt by Metropolitan Statistical Area
Metro AreaAvg. FICO® ScoreAvg. Balance
Longview, TX670$83,381
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT723$80,710
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA719$80,357
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA705$78,676
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA737$77,752
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA733$77,200
Naples-Marco Island, FL722$76,815
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA713$73,742
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL689$71,810
Honolulu, HI727$68,560

Source: Experian 2019 data. Average FICO® Scores are among all consumers in each MSA.

Credit Scores and Debt Totals Continue Their Rise

Underlying consumers' positive outlook on the economy, the effect of improved payment history on credit scores has helped drive debt to record highs in the U.S.

And while consumers continue to add debt, many—58% of those who participated in Experian's survey—believe that they will one day be debt-free. The road to reducing debt begins with only taking out credit you can afford to pay off and having a plan for how you'll pay it back so you're never late on a payment.

Whether growing debt in the U.S. is an indicator of responsible borrowing will be determined as time goes on. What is clear now is that borrowing growth is accompanied by reduced delinquencies, which could bode well for personal finance security over the next decade.

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.

Resources