It's not impossible to have a lot of debt and a good credit score. Just look at baby boomers: They have the second-highest debt burden of any generation—but they also have the second-highest credit scores.
Baby boomers—people between the ages of 55 and 73—carry an average total debt of $95,095, according to Experian data for the fourth quarter of 2018. That's the second-highest of any generation, following members of Generation X, who top the individual debt scales with an average total balance of $134,323.
When it comes to credit scores, however, baby boomers have an average FICO® Score* of 732—45 points higher than Gen Xers. Baby boomers' average of 732 is the second-highest of any generation, and is 31 points higher than the national average of 701.
"It may seem logical that more debt would always lead to lower credit scores, but that's not the case," Susan Henson, the Director of Community Engagement for Experian, said. "If debt is being well managed with on-time payments and credit cards are not maxed out, debt does not tank your credit scores."
To learn more about baby boomers and their debt and credit, Experian analyzed data from the fourth quarter of 2018 to see how the generation held debt around the country. Read on to learn more.
Baby Boomer Debt in Some Cities Is More Than Double the National Average
Baby boomers in six U.S. cities had more than double the national average amount of student loan debt at $34,906, according to Experian data from the fourth quarter of 2018. At the same time, average FICO® Scores in these cities also remained significantly above the national average of 701. The national average for student loan debt among Baby Boomers was $33,812 in the fourth quarter of 2018 according to Experian data.
Top Cities for Baby Boomer Student Loan Debt in 2018
|Top 25 Cities||Average Student Loan Balance||Average FICO® Score|
|Santa Barbara, CA||$83,224||762|
|Santa Cruz, CA||$78,681||760|
|La Jolla, CA||$64,289||769|
|Coral Gables, FL||$56,885||738|
|Ponte Verda, FL||$55,655||772|
|Santa Monica, CA||$55,598||750|
|Palo Alto, CA||$55,547||780|
|Newport Beach, CA||$52,732||748|
|Upper Marlboro, MD||$52,574||700|
|Buffalo Grove, IL||$51,314||770|
Source: Experian Q4 2018 data
Certain affluent U.S. cities also had close to or more than double the national average in credit card debt—which in the fourth quarter was $6,445—while still maintaining higher than average scores. This occurred in Greenwich, Connecticut; Beverly Hills, California; Newport Beach, California; Coral Gables, Florida; and Encino, California. The national average for credit card debt among Baby Boomers was $7,041 in the fourth quarter of 2018 according to Experian data.
Top Cities for Baby Boomer Credit Card Debt in 2018
|Top 25 Cities||Average Credit Card Balance||Average FICO® Score|
|Beverly Hills, CA||$16,774||743|
|Newport Beach, CA||$15,037||748|
|Coral Gables, FL||$12,556||738|
|La Jolla, CA||$12,080||769|
|Laguna Beach, CA||$12,044||757|
|Flower Mound, TX||$11,415||761|
|Fort Washington, MD||$11,049||703|
|The Woodlands, TX||$11,039||767|
|Miami Beach, FL||$10,973||721|
|Ponte Vedra, FL||$10,818||772|
|Sherman Oaks, CA||$10,817||742|
|Woodland Hills, CA||$10,727||739|
Source: Experian Q4 2018 data
Across other debt products, baby boomers in several affluent cities carried debt that in some cases was more than 10 times the national average. In Princeton, New Jersey, for example, they carried an average balance of $229,408 in personal loans, over 10 times the national average of $16,249. And again in Beverly Hills, California, baby boomers' average mortgage balance exceeded $1.2 million, more than six times the national average.
Overall, of the baby boomers who had carried high individual debt, most were able to do so while maintaining an above average credit score. Additionally, baby boomers in wealthy areas tended to carry higher balances, racking up in some cases several times the national average.
If you're a baby boomer and want to understand more about your current debt and credit situation, consider getting a free copy of your credit reports and scores from Experian to understand what's in your credit file.
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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. MSA is the acronym for metropolitan statistical area, which groups 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.