You might already know that credit accounts, credit cards, and credit limits are already up — way up — among most segments of consumers. That’s probably more good than bad. On the other hand, delinquencies are also up. Car loan debt is turning bad, quickly. But on the other, other hand, as I’ve written before, the number of consumers who don’t pay their credit card bill in full every month isn’t rising (actually, it fell a smidge last quarter). So, it’s truly a mixed bag. From my story on Experian’s site:
Somewhere in the middle of these contradictions, between borrowers with record high credit scores and those facing higher debt, is a “typical” American consumer. You might be wondering where you fit in. So here’s a picture of an average U.S. consumer today — let’s call her Jane Smith. Jane holds 3.1 credit cards, and has an average balance of $6,354. She also holds 2.5 retail credit cards with an additional $1,841 in balances. Her mortgage balance is $201,811, and her other debt — mostly car loan debt — totals $24,706. Her credit score is 675.
A note of caution about Jane: It’s risky to use the word “average” to mean “typical” when talking about money. For example, credit card “balance” is a tricky number: Consumers with large balances who pay them off every month are in a very different situation than those who carry balances every month.
Also, regional differences mean a lot. A $201,000 mortgage would sound crazy to someone in rural Ohio, but downright cheap to someone in urban Seattle, for example.
The Experian report includes some additional fascinating details — where credit scores are highest, and lowest, for example (here’s a hint. People seem to have more fun, and spend more, in warmer places.) You can read the report here.