What’s the Ideal Credit Score for Each Generation?

Shot of an unrecognizable businesswoman holding a digital tablet showing her credit score.
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Few numbers are more consequential to your financial life than the three that make up your credit score. FICO uses a range of 300-850, and your position on that spectrum will determine how much you’ll pay to borrow money — or if you can even borrow any at all.

Your credit score affects everything from your insurance premiums to your job prospects and your ability to rent an apartment, and it always will. It’s a lifelong journey, though, and scores change a lot over time. 

No matter your age it’s important to look to the future, but focus on the here and now. Here’s a look at the credit score you should shoot for, depending on your generation.

How Do You Measure Up Against Your Age Group’s Average?

According to American Express, the average FICO score rises with each consecutive age group. Take a look:

  • 18-24: 679
  • 25-40: 686
  • 41-56: 705 
  • 57-75: 740
  • 76+: 760

Now that you know the national averages by demographic, here’s where the experts think each generation’s score should be.  

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Gen Z: Aim for Fair and Rising

The Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) does not directly factor income into credit scores, but your length of credit history is an important factor that makes up 15% of your score. Banks are hesitant to lend money to people who haven’t proven they can handle it responsibly.

That catch-22 — that you need credit to get credit — is one of the primary barriers for young adults looking to build profiles that lenders find attractive. 

“When you’re in your 20s, you likely won’t have much credit history,” said Carter Seuthe, CEO of Credit Summit Consolidation. “It’s not surprising to see people with credit scores in the 500-600 range here until they get deeper into their 20s.” 

That’s not such a bad thing. FICO rates 580-669 as fair — below average, but good enough for at least some lenders to extend at least some offers. That’s your foot in the door to avoid mistakes, lower your risk profile and start building.

“You ideally want to get above 600 as quickly as possible to open up loan and credit options,” said Seuthe.

Millennials: 700 Should Be Within Reach

The average score for the 25-40 group is 680. But the oldest and youngest millennials bookend 15 very consequential years with many financial milestones in between. 

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Younger millennials might consider 680 an achievement and the older set should probably aim higher. 

“By the time you’re 30, your score should be above 650,” said Seuthe. “In your 40s, you really want to have a score in the high 600s and ideally cross that golden 700 threshold. This will open up the best options for financing on vehicle loans and mortgages.”

FICO classifies scores between 670-739 as good, which means slightly above average and attractive to most lenders.

Gen Xers Should Be Comfortably in the 700s

In their early 40s to late 50s, most Gen Xers are in their prime earning years, but they’re also in what’s often the most expensive life phase. They’re less likely than their boomer elders to have paid off their houses and many are helping to support aging parents while also raising kids or paying for their education.

All of that is much easier with a strong credit profile. 

“Gen Xers — who often juggle multiple financial responsibilities such as mortgages, college tuition, and retirement savings — may aim for a credit score of at least 720,” said Bailey Schramm, a financial advisor at BizReport. “A higher score can help them secure better interest rates on loans, reduce the cost of borrowing, and help them negotiate better deals on insurance and other financial products.”

FICO considers 740-799 to be very good. If Gen Xers can get into that range, their ever-growing list of expenses could be much easier to manage.

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Boomers: Aim for the Stars, but Don’t Let a Dip Get You Down

Most baby boomers are at or approaching their peak credit score years, and just like in their younger days, higher is always better. 

“The ideal credit score range for boomers falls between 740 and 850,” said Patrick Grayson, financial expert and founder and CEO of Paramount Property. “While it may be more difficult for older adults to establish a good credit history, those who have done so have likely been successful in managing their finances and using credit wisely.”

850 is as good as it gets, and FICO considers anything over 800 excellent — but anything in the very good range will set them up for smooth sailing in their golden years. 

Even so, scores can fall later in life as retirees typically have lower incomes and fewer active accounts. But they shouldn’t let a ding to their score get them down or make rash financial decisions.

“As you age into retirement, you may find your credit score dipping,” said Seuthe. “If you’ve saved well for retirement, your reliance on credit will drop, but your need for it will, as well.”

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If your score is very good or excellent in your 60s or 70s, just keep doing what you’ve been doing.

“It’s important at this stage to remain committed to the same practices that have given them such a high rating,” said Grayson.

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street's investment community in New York City.
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