FairIssac Corporation (FICO), the credit report scoring gurus we featured a short time ago, has profiled the 'typical' credit consumer.

Based on people who have recently obtained new credit, they have drawn a composite of Americans who seem to do a pretty good job of managing all of that plastic. How do you compare?


Credit History:

The average consumer has been managing credit for 13 years. Only 20 percent of persons applying for new credit had histories exceeding 20 years and only 5% had histories shorter than 2 years.

Total Credit:

Americans have a lot of available credit, but apparently they are using it judiciously. FICO estimates that the typical consumer has a total of 11 credit obligations including credit cards, bank cards, gas and department store charge cards, student, mortgage and other installment lines. Seven of these are typically credit cards, four are probably loans.

All of this plastic (and those coupon books) endows the typical consumer with $12,190 of available credit. However, only a small percentage are actually 'maxing out' their credit. Fewer than one in eight are using 80% or more of what is available to them; more than half are using 30% or less.

Almost half of credit card owners have a total balance that is less than $1,000, and only one in ten have run their total card balances over $10,000. When all non-mortgage credit ' credit cards plus auto loans, student loans, etc., - is considered, only 46 percent have over $5,000 in debt. Apparently, when one indulges, however, it is on a large scale. 30 percent have non-mortgage debt that exceeds $10,000.

Payment Performance:

An impressive number of people pay their bills on time. Fewer than four 40 percent of credit consumers have ever been reported 30 or more days late on a payment and only 20 percent have been reported 60 or more days late. Less than 10 percent have ever had an account closed due to default. This is even more striking when one recalls all the tales of credit fraud, identity theft, and, especially, mistakes in credit reporting.