Baby Boomers Prove High Debt Doesn’t Equal Bad Credit

An elderly couple is at their kitchen signing a document while the woman embraces the man.

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 CitiesAverage Student Loan BalanceAverage FICO® Score
Davis, CA$92,550782
Santa Barbara, CA$83,224762
Berkeley, CA$81,599763
Santa Cruz, CA$78,681760
Greenwich, CT$78,131759
Cupertino, CA$72,583786
La Jolla, CA$64,289769
Danville, CA$62,114784
Potomac, MD$60,367784
Irvine, CA$58,541754
Northbrook, IL$58,077775
Manalapan, NJ$57,750761
Estero, FL$57,683774
Coral Gables, FL$56,885738
Ponte Verda, FL$55,655772
Santa Monica, CA$55,598750
Palo Alto, CA$55,547780
Elmhurst, IL$54,799765
Cambridge, MA$54,438753
Riverdale, GA$54,428659
Newport Beach, CA$52,732748
Upper Marlboro, MD$52,574700
Astoria, NY$51,726725
Conyers, GA$51,662697
Buffalo Grove, IL$51,314770

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 CitiesAverage Credit Card BalanceAverage FICO® Score
Greenwich, CT$16,855759
Beverly Hills, CA$16,774743
Newport Beach, CA$15,037748
Coral Gables, FL$12,556738
Encino, CA$12,265750
La Jolla, CA$12,080769
Laguna Beach, CA$12,044757
Potomac, MD$11,926784
Stafford, VA$11,745741
Danville, CA$11,731784
McLean, VA$11,587780
Flower Mound, TX$11,415761
Coppell, TX$11,382757
Northbrook, IL$11,247775
Alpharetta, GA$11,192760
Fort Washington, MD$11,049703
The Woodlands, TX$11,039767
Leesburg, VA$11,033758
Miami Beach, FL$10,973721
Bethesda, MD$10,958778
Ponte Vedra, FL$10,818772
Sherman Oaks, CA$10,817742
Bowie, MD$10,734721
Frisco, TX$10,728741
Woodland Hills, CA$10,727739

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.

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.