According to Experian's 12th annual State of Credit report, the average Vantage score climbed from 688 in 2020 to 695 in 2021 and the median Vantage score climbed from 697 in 2020 to 701 in 2021. The score improvements were supported by fewer missed payments, lower credit utilization rates, reduced card balances and total debt levels year-over-year and prior to the pandemic’s arrival.
Though consumers took on more mortgage and auto debt, average nonmortgage debt fell slightly from $25,483 in 2020 to $25,112 in 2021.
Average credit utilization rates fell 1% year-over-year to 25%, while the average credit card balance fell from $5,897 in 2020 to $5,525 in 2021. Gen Z was the only generation that saw a slight uptick year-over-year in its credit utilization rate and the only generation to increase their credit card balance by $115 year-over-year.
Average delinquency rates also dropped significantly across the board, with rates for bills past due for an average of 30 to 59 days falling from 3.8% in 2019 to 2.3% in 2021, rates for bills past due for an average of 60 to 89 days falling from 1.9% in 2019 to 1% in 2021, and rates for bills past due for an average of 90 to 180 days falling from 6.6% in 2019 to 2.5% in 2021.
Gen Z decreased their 90 to 180 days past due delinquency rate by 29% year over year to 1.73 in 2021, a 72% decrease from the same period in 2019. Millennials also decreased their 90 to 180 days past due delinquency rates to 1.73% in 2021, down from 10.6% in 2019.
This year, Experian partnered with Operation Hope for the launch of the first HOPE Financial Wellness Index, which found that consumers in Minnesota have the highest credit scores with an average of 726, followed by Vermont (719), New Hampshire (718), Washington (717) and Massachusetts (716). States with the lowest credit scores were found in the south, including Mississippi (666), Louisiana (669), Alabama (672), Oklahoma (672) and Texas (673).
"While consumers on average are managing their credit histories well, we know there are many communities in critical need of more financial education and resources," Operation HOPE founder and CEO John Hope Bryant said in a statement. "By helping people raise their credit scores, we are empowering them to take advantage of one of our nation’s most democratic tools. From housing and employment to health care and education, credit worthiness can be leveraged to improve our overall quality of life."
Over one-fourth of Americans say they are in households that have difficulty paying for usual household expenses, according to the Census Bureau's latest Household Pulse Survey.