Millennials have the lowest credit scores of all generations

Latest analysis from Experian shows that millennials use credit less than previous generations but have potential to be better credit customers in the future

Costa Mesa, Calif., July 30, 2015 — As millennials have now passed baby boomers as the largest segment of the U.S. population, this digitally independent generation is still much less savvy than older generations when it comes to their finances and credit management. Experian®, a leading global information services company, released key findings today that provide a glimpse into the credit management habits of millennials and show how coming of age in a challenging economy has had an effect on this generation’s credit profile. 

The analysis highlights the credit characteristics of an average millennial as well as a look at how other generations are faring. The groups studied included Generation Y/millennials (ages 19–34), Generation X (ages 35–49), and baby boomers and the greatest generation combined (ages 50–87). 

Snapshot of credit characteristics by generation (including national averages) 


Generation Y/millennials

Generation X

Baby boomers and the greatest generation

National average

Average VantageScore®[1] score





Average debt[2]





Average debt (excluding mortgages)





Average estimated income[3]





Bankcard balances





Bankcard utilization






“Given the significance millennials play in financial services and the credit marketplace, it is crucial to understand this influential consumer segment and how they use credit as a tool,” said Michele Raneri, vice president of analytics and business development. “While this generation may not look like they are on the right track financially, it’s important to keep in mind that credit scores are built on credit experiences, and while this generation has been slower to use credit, they have plenty of opportunities to build a positive credit history. The best way to do that is to understand credit before using it.”

Comparing millennials with Generation X

Even with millennials taking a little longer to establish some forms of credit compared with previous generations, their sheer numbers make them an important and growing market segment. When comparing credit usage of a more youthful Generation X population, there appear to be some interesting trends in origination patterns. Auto loans make up 14 percent of all recently opened accounts for millennials, compared to 1 percent for their Generation X counterparts at the same age in 1998. Similarly, student loans make up 24 percent of all new accounts for millennials, compared to 20 percent for their Generation X counterparts at a comparable age. The study also shows that fewer millennials are using bankcards, with only 27 percent of their recently opened accounts being bankcards, compared to 46 percent for their Generation X counterparts at the same age.

“We’re seeing that millennials are purchasing cars at a much earlier point in life, which is giving them the opportunity to build credit a little differently than previous generations,” said Rod Griffin, Experian’s director of public education. “This is a critical time for members of this generation as they are learning to use credit as a tool. With so many financial education resources available to help them, we believe that members of this generation are more empowered and informed than members of other generations and are starting their adult lives off by building strong credit as they set out on their own.”

Auto loans versus leases

The study also showed that millennials appear to favor auto loans over leases, as there were 13.4 auto loans per one lease. This ratio is 9.3 to 1 for Generation X and 8.3 to 1 for baby boomers. However, auto leases tend to be a product that may attract older consumers because they tend to have higher and more established credit. Consequently, findings from the analysis showed that the older millennials were more likely to have an auto lease than their younger counterparts.

Additional data and educational resources

  •         View infographics that highlight some key credit characteristics of millennials
  •         Experian is sponsoring a tweetchat with @Wisebread today at 3 p.m. Eastern time to chat about the study and its findings. Register at and follow #wbchat.
  •         Join the #CreditChat hosted by @Experian_US on Twitter with financial experts and consumers every Wednesday at 3 p.m. Eastern time
  •         Visit Ask Experian for answers to common questions, advice and education about consumer credit
  •         Ask credit questions on our Facebook page at

About the analysis

The analysis is based on a statistically relevant sampling of depersonalized data from Experian’s consumer credit database as of December 2014. VantageScore 3.0 was the credit score used in this study. The VantageScore 3.0 model’s range is 300 – 850.

About VantageScore

VantageScore Solutions, LLC ( is the independently managed company that owns the intellectual property rights to the VantageScore credit scoring models, including the recently announced VantageScore 3.0 model which has the ability to formulate a score for 30 – 35 million previously unscoreable consumers. Initially developed by America’s three national credit reporting companies (CRCs) — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — VantageScore Solutions’ highly predictive models use an innovative, patented and patent-pending scoring methodology that provides lenders and consumers with more consistent credit scores across all three national credit reporting companies.

About Experian

We are the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to our clients around the world. We help businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. We also help people to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft. In 2014, we were named by Forbes magazine as one of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies.”

We employ approximately 17,000 people in 39 countries and our corporate headquarters are in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; California, US; and São Paulo, Brazil.

Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended March 31, 2015, was US$4.8 billion. To find out more about our company, please visit or watch our documentary, “Inside Experian.”

Experian and the Experian marks used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of Experian Information Solutions, Inc.Other product and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

VantageScore® is a registered trademark of VantageScore Solutions, LLC.

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[1]VantageScore 3.0 was used for this study. The score range is 300–850.

[2]Average debt for this study includes all credit cards, mortgage, auto loans and personal loans/student loans.

[3]Estimated income calculated using Experian’s Income InsightSM.