credit in America
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Every year Experian releases a report called the Annual State of Credit Report, which highlights trends in consumer borrowing and credit. The latest report provides a peek into how consumers have been handling debt and credit over the last year as well as since the Great Recession of 2008, and the findings are largely positive. Here are the nine trends about credit highlighted in the report that you should know about.

1. Average Credit Card Balances Are on the Rise

Average credit card balances went up from $6,354 in 2017 to $6,506 in 2018. Only a two percent increase, this statistic points more to a slow uptick in credit card balances rather than a large or alarming spike in average credit card debt.

2. Retail Credit Card Balances and Number of Retail Cards Are Up, Too

Although the mass closure of many popular retail chains in recent years has led to what media outlets are calling the “retailpocalypse,” retail credit cards don’t seem to be suffering the same fate. The average number of retail credit cards per person went up to 2.59 in 2018 from 2.48 in 2017, and balances on these cards have increased as well. In 2017, the average retail credit card balance was $1,841, and in 2018, the average retail credit card balance was $1,901, or a three percent increase.

3. VantageScore® Credit Scores Are Also Going Up

Credit scores have gone up along with credit usage, or so it seems to be the case with VantageScore® credit scores. The average VantageScore® credit score in 2017 was 675, while the average in 2018 was 680. These numbers have yet to hit the high in 2008, though, which was 685.

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4. Delinquency Rates of 90 Days or More Are Going Down

Sometimes an increase in credit balances can lead to fear of more default, but that wasn’t the case in 2018 – at least not for delinquencies of 90 days or more. The average past due rates of 90 days or more in 2017 were 7.3 percent, while the average in 2018 was 6.7 percent.

Delinquency rates of 30 days and 60 days have stayed relatively steady in the past year. Average past due rates of 30 days were four percent in 2017 and 3.9 percent in 2018, while the rates of 60 days delinquent were 1.9 percent for both years.

5. Revolving Credit Utilization Has Stayed the Same

So, how about credit utilization? This ratio, which has a large impact on both FICO® and VantageScore® credit scores, stayed the same from 2017 and 2018 at 30 percent. This could help explain why the average VantageScore® credit score didn’t suffer as the average credit balances have gone up, as it’s recommended to keep credit utilization at 30 percent or below.

6. Mortgage Debt Is on the Rise

Mortgage debt also went up in 2018. Mortgage debt in 2017 was an average of $201,811, while the average in 2018 went up to $208,180. That’s an increase of three percent.

7. Non-Mortgage Debt Is on the Rise

Besides that, non-mortgage debt also increased — from $24,706 in 2017 to $25,104 in 2018. That means non-mortgage debt went up by nearly two percent.

8. Mortgage and Non-Mortgage Debt Went Up Significantly Since 2008

Although mortgage and non-mortgage debt saw subtle increases from 2017 to 2018, the increases from 2008 are more significant. The average non-mortgage debt in 2008 was $23,929. Compare that to 2018’s average of $25,104, and you’ll see that this type of debt has gone up approximately five percent in the last decade.

As for mortgage debt, 2008 had an average of $191,357, and 2018 had an average of $208,180. That means mortgage debt over the past decade increased by nearly nine percent. (Average credit card balances, on the other hand, went down in the past decade.)

9. Delinquency Rates Across the Board Have Gone Down Since 2008

Although non-credit card debt went up in the 10 years between 2008 and 2018, delinquency rates have gone down.

Delinquency rates of 30 days past due were at an average of 5.4 percent in 2008 and 3.9 percent in 2018. There was an average of 2.9 percent of accounts 60 days past due in 2008 and 1.9 percent in 2018. Finally, there was an average of 7.1 percent of accounts 90 days past due in 2008 and 6.7 percent in 2018.

All in all, the average accounts past due went down 1.5 percent for those 30 days past due in the last decade, they went down one percent for accounts 60 days past due, and down 0.4 percent for accounts 90 days past due.

What Does It All Mean?

All told, it looks as though the numbers are pointing to responsible credit usage for 2018 — and hopefully beyond. Although debt has gone up from 2017 through 2018, delinquencies have gone down since the aftermath of the Great Recession. What’s more, VantageScore® credit scores are on the rise and revolving credit utilization held steady at 30 percent — the recommended maximum for building or maintaining good credit.