There are many studies that show the differences between how men and women handle their finances. Below, I’m sharing many of the statistics that came out over the past few years.
The data varies when it comes to who handles credit better. The amount of credit card debt men and women have and even their credit scores really differ depending on the age of the population studied and other factors.
Amount of Credit Card Debt
A 2015 survey by National Debt Relief showed a large difference in the percentage of women and men who carried credit card debt, among certain age groups. Here are some statistics:
- 63% of women aged 18 – 24 and 66% of women aged 55 – 64 carry credit card debt
- 36% of men aged 18 – 24 and 33% of men aged 55 – 64 carry credit card debt
However, those numbers show the percentage of each age group that carry credit card debt, but it doesn’t illustrate the balances. When you look at the actual average balances, a 2016 survey by Credit Sesame showed that men had an overall debt of around $25,000; women had an overall debt of around $21,000.
Interestingly enough, just because men had higher debt balances doesn’t necessarily mean they had worse credit scores.
The same 2016 survey by Credit Sesame mentioned above found that men had an average credit score of 630; women had an average credit score of 621.
One explanation that Credit Sesame offered for the difference is that men often have higher incomes than women, which might enable them to get more credit and higher credit limits. Credit scores heavily depend on payment history, and sometimes a higher income can help ensure more timely payments.
To add to the equation, a 2017 LendingTree study of millennials showed that in this generation, the average credit score for women is 666 and the average credit score for men is 661.
When it comes to who has the higher credit score – men or women – it really depends on what segment of the population you’re studying.
Confidence with Credit
Sallie Mae conducted a national study in 2016 in order to learn how college students manage their finances. In their research, they found out some differences between college men and women (p. 24).
Among the college students surveyed, “Men are more likely than women to feel confident in their money management skills, but women were more likely to answer the ‘how credit works’ questions correctly.”
They also found that “men are more likely than women to have a credit card (60% and 53%, respectively), and to carry a higher average balance.”
Why Does It Matter?
Truthfully, many companies have spent considerable time and effort looking at the differences between how men and women handle credit, but is that what really matters?
Maybe it’s because I’m a parent of boy/girl twins, but in my opinion, it’s not the differences that matter but what we’re doing as a society to close any reported gaps.
When I look at the differences between men and women when it comes to credit scores, debt carried and money confidence, what I see is an opportunity to spread more financial literacy. An article by Finra showed that the financial literacy gap is narrowing between men and women, and that’s good news! The more accurate information we can spread about credit to everyone, the better.
Financial literacy is something that can begin at a young age. Your credit history can start when you’re a teenager. Plus, most college students will be managing money on their own for the first time when they get to school.
Ultimately, you can improve your financial literacy when it comes to your credit. It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female or what age you are. All that matters is that you take the time to learn how to improve and maintain your own credit score so that you can achieve some of your biggest financial goals.
Have you noticed any credit-related behaviors that differ between the men and women in your circle of friends and family? Let us know in the comments below!
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