It’s a statistic you’ve heard a lot: Women only earn about 79 cents for every dollar men make. But even though men make more money, they’re not necessarily managing it better than women do. On average, men have more debt than women, according to a recent analysis from credit bureau Experian.
They also have lower average credit scores.
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Income has no direct impact on your credit standing — it’s generally not reported to the major credit reporting agencies and as a result is not factored into credit scores. But there’s no denying that having more money can make it easier to avoid things that can damage your credit, like high credit card balances, missed loan payments or collection accounts. Despite their statistical income advantage, men have an average credit score of 670, while women average a 675 score. (That’s on the VantageScore scale of 300 to 850.) They also carry an average of 3.7% more debt than women: $27,627 to women’s $26,610.
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When you look at the most important factors of credit scores — payment history and how much a person uses of their available credit — women outperform men, the Experian data show. Even though women have more credit cards (an average of 3.7 cards versus men’s 3-card average), they seem to manage their credit card debt better. Men use an average of 27.3% of their available credit, while women use an average of 26.2%. A good rule of thumb is to use less than 30% of your available credit, but for best credit scoring results, it’s ideal to use less than 10%.
As far as late payments go, the Experian analysis focuses on mortgage payments. Men paid their mortgages late 8.1% more often than women did. A single late payment can significantly knock down your credit score — especially if you have a high one to begin with — so men’s lower credit scores make a lot of sense given their greater tendency to fall behind on mortgage payments.