Credit Under 30: How Adults Under Age 30 Manage Their Debt

Female friends enjoying on vacation

Building credit takes time—and nowhere is this more obvious than with consumers under 30 years old. Adults younger than 30 typically have less credit, less debt and also lower credit scores than those who have had a longer time to build credit.

To see how U.S. adults ages 18 to 29 compare with people in older age groups, Experian analyzed credit data from the fourth quarter of 2018. Read on to find out more about where this age group falls on the credit spectrum.

Credit Overview for Americans Under 30

U.S. adults under 30 years old have an average FICO® Score of 659, which is 42 points lower than the national average of 701. But their scores are only 13 points lower than the average FICO® Score of 672 for people between the ages of 30 and 41, according to Experian data.

The good news is while their credit scores are on the lower end, so is their total debt. Compared with Americans between ages 30 and 41, those under 30 carry less than half the average total debt. The differences vary across different debt products, but overall, consumers under 30 consistently carry less debt.

Credit Snapshot: Debt and Credit for U.S. Consumers Under 30
SnapshotUnder 30Age 30-41National Average
Average FICO® Score659672701
Average Number of Credit Cards2.13.43.8
Average Credit Card Balance$3,357$6,549$6,445
Average Student Loan Balance$25,979$39,704$34,906
Average Auto Loan Balance$15,879$19,789$19,117
Average Personal Loan Balance$8,159$14,038$16,249
Average Total Balance$35,326$110,935$93,446

Source: Experian Q4 2018 data

29-Year-Olds Have the Highest Individual Debt Totals of All Adults Under 30

Not surprisingly, overall debt amounts in this age group grew as people neared age 30. Of all people under 30, the 29-year-olds had the highest average total debt amounts, totaling $66,139. That's nearly double the under-30 average, but still almost $30,000 less than the national average of $93,446 in total debt.

The trend was reversed when it came to credit scores, with FICO® Scores decreasing as U.S. consumers neared 30. As newcomers to credit without much time to make mistakes, 18-year-olds had the highest scores—713—of adults under 30. Meanwhile, 29-year-olds had an average FICO® Score of 660, the lowest score of adults under 30.

Building Credit in Your 20s and Beyond

If you're under 30 and trying to improve your credit scores, paying your bills on time every month is the most important action you can take, as payment history tends to be the biggest factor in credit scoring models. Opening a new credit card could also help over the long term if used responsibly, as it demonstrates the ability to safely take on new credit.

As you continue to build your credit history, make sure to periodically check your credit reports and scores so you know what they contain and what lenders will see when you apply for new credit, and also to correct any errors that could be hurting your credit. You can get a Experian Boost®ø, a new tool that gives you credit for your on-time utility and telecom payments made through your bank account.

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.