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Married Consumers Have Higher Credit Scores and Debt Than Single Adults

A popular misconception about getting married is that it will impact your credit scores. The truth is that credit scores aren't impacted at all by your marital status, but recent Experian data shows that married consumers do have significantly higher scores on average compared with those who haven't tied the knot.

In addition to boasting an average credit score 56 points higher than single adults, married consumers have more than double the total debt and dramatically fewer delinquent accounts.

As part of our ongoing look at debt and credit in the U.S., Experian analyzed consumer credit data for the second quarter (Q2) of 2019, comparing married adults and those adults who had never been married to see how they handled debt and credit differently. Read on for our insights and analysis.

Married Consumers Tend to Have Higher Credit Scores

While there is no direct connection between marriage and credit reports or scores—individual credit reports remain completely separate and spouses' scores do not impact each other—Experian data shows that those who are married tend to have higher credit scores.

Overall, married adults had an average FICO® Score* of 715—56 points higher than single consumers whose average was 659, according to Experian data from Q2 2019. Over the past five years, FICO® Scores for married people have kept pace with the national average, increasing by seven points since Q2 2015. Single consumers saw a 10-point increase in that time.

Average Credit Score by Marital Status
Married715
Single656
U.S. Average703

Source: Experian Q2 2019 data

Married People Carry More Than Double the Debt of Singles

For many people, getting married can mean major changes in their finances. In fact, a Pew Research study found that 68% of Americans want to get married in the future, but cite the lack of financial stability as a reason they haven't done so.

On paper, married consumers have a starkly different financial profile than single adults. Americans who have tied the knot had over 120% more total debt on average in Q2 2019 than single borrowers, according to Experian data. Married consumers carried a total average debt of $112,627 in Q2 2019—that's over $61,000 more than the single consumer average and roughly $20,000 more than the national average debt load of $92,479.

Average Total Debt by Marital Status
Married$112,627
Single$51,264
U.S. Average$92,479

Source: Experian Q2 2019 data

Single Consumers Have Twice as Many Delinquent Accounts

Even though they have half as much debt, single consumers have a delinquent account ratio (the ratio of total accounts to delinquent accounts) that is more than double that of married consumers. Unmarried adults' delinquent account ratio of 32% was 14 percentage points higher than the national average of 18%. Married borrowers had a delinquency ratio of 15% in Q2 2019.

Account Delinquency Ratio by Marital Status
Married15%
Single32%
U.S. Average18%

Source: Experian Q2 2019 data

Married Consumers Carry More Personal Loan, Credit Card Debt

While overall debt was higher among married consumers, their personal loan and credit card balances especially stood out in comparison to single adults. Personal loan balances held by married borrowers totaled $18,799 in Q2 2019. That's 102% higher than the personal loan balances owed by single consumers, which was $9,314. The average credit card balance among married adults was $6,881—41% higher than single borrowers, who carried only $4,870.

While the percentage difference in debt totals appears extreme, single consumer balances for personal loans and credit cards were both below the national average.

Average Debt Amounts by Marital Status and Debt Type
Marital StatusPersonal Loan DebtCredit Card Debt
Married$18,799$6,881
Single$9,314$4,870
U.S. Average$16,259$6,194

Source: Experian Q2 2019 data

Good Credit Often Means High Debt and On-Time Payments

Though married adults may carry more debt than single consumers, their better-than-average scores actually make sense. In most cases, according to Experian data, consumers with higher balances also have higher credit scores. Additionally, paying bills on time—which avoids records of delinquent accounts—can make a noticeably large difference in your average credit scores.

Whether married consumers were more financially prepared before they tied the knot, or some aspect of marriage encouraged them to take new debt and manage it responsibly, the difference in scores between the two groups are distinct and could have valuable implications on how they get and interact with new credit.

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.

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