College students and their Millennial peers know less than the general population the magic number for a good credit score and who collects the data behind the scores, a survey released Monday showed.
The national credit score survey revealed what the survey’s sponsor, the Consumer Federation of America, called a “knowledge gap” between Millennials — people ages 18 to 34 — and Americans of all ages.
About three-quarters (73 percent) of Millennials knew that 700 is usually a good credit score, versus 81 percent of all those interviewed.
About six in 10 (61 percent) of Millennials knew that three credit bureaus collect information on which the scores are based, the survey showed. The credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
The telephone survey, conducted by the Consumer Federation and credit-scoring company VantageScore Solutions, sampled 1,000 people throughout the United States by landline or cellphone. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The survey also showed Americans of all ages could stand to hone their credit-score knowledge, since only 20 percent knew that low credit scores are likely to increase the finance charges on a $20,000, 60-month car loan by more than $5,000.
On the other hand, slightly more people this year than in last year’s survey understood that credit scores may influence interest rates and fees imposed by mortgage lenders, credit card issuers and cellphone companies, the survey showed.
Six in 10 — up from last year’s 57 percent — also knew that making loan payments on time, keeping credit card balances low or paid off and avoiding opening several credit card accounts at the same time help raise a credit score or maintain a high score.
For college students, who are taking on an average of $27,000 in student loans and whose student-loan debt exceeds credit card debt, Consumer Federation Executive Director Stephen Brobeck had this advice in an interview with the Sun-Times:
Minimize the amount of student loan borrowing.
Consider choosing a university that is more affordable, such as a state public university, Brobeck said.
“Tens of thousands of dollars in student loans will hang over your head for years, maybe decades, and it will constrain your choices,” Brobeck said. “Many graduates think they have to take a higher-paying job to pay off the debts and, as a result, they might end up not doing the work that would excite them the most. They trade off income for having passion for their work. That’s sad.”
Hone your knowledge about how to resolve credit-score problems.
The Consumer Federation of America encourages people to start by taking a quiz on its newly revamped website, CreditScoreQuiz.org. One of the questions explains that the federal agency best suited to resolve problems about credit scores and credit reports is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Student-loan debt cannot be wiped clean in bankruptcy.
Take advantage of free resources to obtain your “generic” credit score.