April 5th, 2013

Infographic: The Lifecycle of Debt and Credit Scores

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Here at the Credit Karma Blog we’ve talked before about the average national credit score and average debt load. We’ve taken a look at potential credit score rivalries and how different credit score ranges compare when it comes to debt, on-time payments and number of accounts. We love data, if you hadn’t noticed. We are nerds, after all.

A while back, we took a deeper dive into the correlation between age, credit scores and different types of debt. We used our findings to create this infographic. Click to see an enlarged view and scroll down to read the highlights.


What We Found

Young borrowers have fewer lines of credit and a shorter credit history, which means less factors on which to base their creditworthiness.

Debt increases significantly in the 30s and 40s as consumers take on the largest debt of their lives: home loans.

Credit scores increase steadily as consumers responsibly manage their debt by paying down their debt.

Student loan debt remains a constant in the lives of most adult consumers.

As consumer credit history lengthens, credit scores typically increase.

What jumps out at you in this infographic?


is the Communications Manager at Credit Karma, where she’s been since February 2011. When she’s not writing about credit and finance all over the web, you can find her playing her guitar, catching the latest movie, training for her next race or just exploring the city of San Francisco. Say “Hi” on Twitter: @bhardeman.

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  1. Bethy,
    Awesome graphic! I’m surprise that — up to a point — debt and credit scores are directly related. But I understand, as you point out, that it has a lot to do with the length of your credit histroy. The world of debt is so bizarre sometimes!

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

    Christian L. at 10:53 am on April 5, 2013
  2. First thought: How are we supposed to be able to buy a house in our late twenties/early thirties?? Why is that a cultural expectation, if the numbers don’t support it?

    I have less debt and a better credit score for my age than the average represented here, and taking on a mortgage isn’t yet a possibility for me. Plus, all the articles for first-time homebuyers advise that you should have a credit score as high as possible to get the best interest rates. A score in the 640s wouldn’t pass my landlord’s rental application requirement, much less a mortgage banker’s. Are so many young adults getting approved for mortgages with scores like that? (It’s simultaneously aggravating, worrisome, and hopeful.) Or is it that the ones on the high end of the scale are taking on the home loans at that age, and the graph showing the averages doesn’t tell the complete story?

    Remy @MLISunderstanding at 1:04 pm on April 5, 2013
  3. Credit scores seem to follow debt but delayed by about 30 years! That 30 year lag (that’s from peak to peak of the 2 curves) is extremely surprising! That tells me that rating agencies are very slow to determine who is a good risk, and who is not.

    MikeW at 8:12 pm on April 7, 2013
  4. What I see is that as you pay off debt, scores start dropping. Notice the trailing credit score trend line plummets as debt is paid off. Credit scores are rising as more debit is being taken on. I’ve also seen this in my own real life. My scores were dropping as I paid down and carried very little debt. They increased a month or two after opening several new accts all carrying balances. We are being rewarded with higher credit scores when we are in debt and therefore paying fin companies interst each month.

    Rob at 10:36 pm on April 8, 2013
  5. Interestingly, in this infographic, all age groups carry some student loan debt. How can that possibly be true?

    BeenjamminHD at 5:46 pm on April 15, 2013
  6. great this info graphic.

    jitender at 5:34 am on April 23, 2013
  7. Awesome! Exactly what I was looking graphic, thanks

    Mohan gokul at 7:19 am on June 20, 2013

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