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Published: Jun 24, 2024 8 min read

When you think about what your credit score should be, the simple answer is that you should aim for the highest possible number — that is 850, an essentially perfect score. However, that perfect score can be hard to achieve if you’re younger, and your credit history is brief.

The good news is that you don’t need an 800+ FICO to get the rewards that come with good credit. Read on to learn how you compare to others your age and some tips on how to build and maintain a great score at every stage of life.

Table of Contents

Average credit score in the U.S.
Does age affect your credit score?
How to build your credit history
What can lower your credit score
What is a good credit score for my age? FAQs

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Average credit score in the U.S.

According to data from the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), the data analytics firm behind the most widely used credit scoring model, the average FICO score in the U.S. was 717 as of October 2023. This places the national average squarely in what is considered the “good credit” range.

For context, FICO scores can range from 300 to 850 and are classified as follows:


Credit classification

300 - 579


580 - 669


670 - 739


740 - 799

Very Good

800 - 850


Average FICO score by age group

But, while age does not technically affect your credit score, the length of your credit history does. As you’ll see from the data below, the older you are, the higher your score is likely to be.

You might also note that there’s been a slight score increase at the age group level, with most seeing a modest 1- to 3-point uptick over the past year, as reported by Experian.

Age Bracket



Point Difference

Gen Z










Gen X





Baby Boomers





Silent Generation





Does age affect your credit score?

While your biological age isn’t taken into account in your credit score, your credit’s age is. Credit age or length of credit history, in fact, accounts for 15% of your FICO score and takes into account the following:

  • How old your credit accounts are (factoring in the age of your oldest account and your newest account, as well as an average age of all your accounts)
  • How long ago specific accounts were established
  • How long certain accounts have been unused

So, in a sense, your age does affect your credit score — but only to the extent that the younger you are, the likelier it is that you have a shorter credit history. Lenders and credit scoring models favor longer credit histories because it gives them a better picture of your financial behavior over time.

If you’re just getting started, your score might be on the lower side simply because there isn’t much for lenders to go on yet. With consistent, responsible use of credit, you can build credit faster than you think.

How to build your credit history

Building your credit history might seem daunting, but it’s doable with a few smart moves.

Check your credit report

The absolute first thing to do is check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com, which you can do for free on a weekly basis. This free report won’t show you your FICO score, but you can get that by purchasing your report from the credit bureaus or you may be able to access that through your credit card issuer’s portal.

Pay your bills on time

Next, don’t underestimate the power of paying your bills on time. This includes not just credit cards, but also rent, utilities, and even cell phone bills. Payment history is the most influential factor in your credit score, so setting up automatic payments or reminders can be a credit-saver.
If you have any student loans or other installment loans, making regular, on-time payments on those can also help build your credit history.

Aim for a balanced credit mix

If your credit history is on the shorter side, aiming for a healthy credit mix will be helpful. Credit mix refers to the various types of credit accounts you may have, from auto and personal loans to credit card debt, mortgages or lines of credit. It accounts for about 10% of your FICO score as it gives lenders a picture of how you handle different types of debt.

Get a credit card

Consider getting a credit card if you don’t already have one. Start with a secured card if needed — these are easier to get if you have no credit history at all. Use it for small purchases that you can pay off each month. This way, you’re showing lenders that you can handle credit responsibly.

Become an authorized user

Another good step to build credit is to become an authorized user on someone else’s account, like a parent or a trusted friend. Their good credit habits can help boost your own score without you needing to do much.

What can lower your credit score

Several factors can lower your credit score, and understanding them can help you avoid common pitfalls.

Missing payments

Missed or late payments are a big red flag for lenders. Even a single missed payment can significantly impact your score, in fact, by as much as 100 points.
It’s essential to pay at least the minimum amount due on all your bills each month to keep your credit healthy. Setting up automatic payments or reminders can help you stay on top of due dates and avoid the hit to your credit score that comes with missing payments.

High credit card debt

Another factor that can drag down your credit score is high credit card balances relative to your credit limits, often referred to as your credit utilization ratio. Lenders like to see that you’re not maxing out your available credit.
Ideally, you should aim to use no more than 30% of your total credit limit across all your cards. Meaning, if you have a combined credit limit of $10,000, try to keep your total balance under $3,000. High balances suggest to lenders that you might be overextended and could have trouble paying back your debts, which can lower your score.

Applications for new credit

Lastly, frequently applying for new credit can also hurt your score. Each time you apply for a credit card, loan, or other forms of credit, the lender will do a hard inquiry on your credit report.
While one or two credit inquiries won’t make much difference, several in a short period can signal to lenders that you’re in financial trouble or taking on too much new debt. This can lower your credit score temporarily. It’s best to apply for new credit sparingly and focus on building a strong, stable credit history with the accounts you already have.

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What is a good credit score for my age FAQs

What should my credit score be at my age?

Credit scores do not really take age into account, but they do take into account length of credit history or credit age. This means that, if you’re on the younger side, your credit score is likely to be lower than someone that has had credit for much longer. This could be one of several reasons why average credit scores for Gen Z and millennials are the lowest of all age groups at 680 and 690 respectively. (The national average is 717.) However, it’s important to note that those scores still fall within the “good credit” range in the FICO scale.

What age group has an 800 credit score?

No age group in the U.S. has an average credit score of 800. According to data from Experian, exceptional FICO scores of 800-850 represent a small fraction of the population — a little over 20%.

What is the average American's credit score?

Though it depends on the scoring model being used, the average American’s credit score has remained steadily between 701 to 717, placing it in the “good credit” range.