How Many People Are Credit Invisible in the US?
Nearly 50 million Americans are considered credit invisible or unscorable. Learn which factors can increase someone’s chances of falling into one of these categories.
Credit Invisibility Statistics: Age, Background and Location
A reported 28 million people in the U.S. are currently considered credit invisible — not having a credit record — and another 21 million have unscorable credit. Both credit invisibility and unscorable credit can lead to issues accessing credit in the future. Lenders are much less likely to issue credit to the 49 million Americans with unscorable credit or who are credit invisible.
Credit records through a nationwide credit reporting agency (NCRA), including TransUnion, Equifax or Experian, are required for credit scoring. An individual with unscorable credit can fall into one of two categories: They have too few accounts or haven’t provided enough information to obtain a credit score or they haven’t had any recent credit activity, so their records have become “stale.” Learn more about the U.S. demographics of those who are considered credit invisible or unscorable, as well as our experts’ insights on credit scoring.
Credit Invisible Total Population
The credit population of the U.S. can be broken down by location and credit classifications. Invisibles account for 11% of the total population, or 28 million U.S. residents. Unscorables account for 8% of the total population, or 21 million U.S. residents. Income rates by community have a major impact on these categories. Nearly 30% of consumers who live in low-income neighborhoods are considered credit invisible and an additional 16% are considered unscorable. In higher-income neighborhoods, these numbers are just 4% and 5%, respectively.
Credit Invisible by Ethnicity
The credit population of the U.S. can be further broken down by ethnicity. A reported 14% of Black Americans and 16% of Hispanic Americans are considered credit invisible, compared to 9% of white Americans and 10% of Asian Americans. In terms of unscorable credit, 13% of Black Americans and 10% of Hispanic Americans are unscorable, compared to 7% of white Americans and 6% of Asian Americans.
About 14% of U.S. residents who fall into the “other ethnicities” category are credit invisible, and 12% are unscorable.
Credit Invisible by Age
Credit invisibility in the U.S. can also be broken down by age category. The largest group of credit invisibles by far is comprised of residents aged 18 to 19, at 64.5% of all invisibles. However, only 0.4% of unscorables fall into this category.
The next-highest percentage of credit invisibles fall into the age 20- to 24-years-old category, at 20.2% of all invisibles. Just 3.8% of all stale or unscorable credit holders fall into this category, though. At the other end of the spectrum, residents aged 70 or older make up 28.9% of all credit invisibles, and 4% of those with stale or unscorable credit.
Credit Invisible/Unscored by Age
- Age GroupCredit InvisibleStale-UnscoredInsufficient-Unscored
18 to 19
20 to 24
25 to 29
30 to 34
35 to 39
Source: Data Point: Credit Invisibles. CFPB 2015
- Youth factors into credit invisibility — 40% of invisibles are under the age of 25.
- While about 35% of 18- to 19-year-olds are credit visible, most start becoming visible a few years later. Visibility spikes to 91% in the 25- to 29-years-old age bracket.
- Student loans, student credit cards and guarantor credit make most teens credit visible early on since they don’t require any prior credit history to be obtained.
- Despite teens’ options to become credit visible early on (e.g., student loans, etc.), their opportunities may be limited by their socio-economic background. Living in low-income neighborhoods, not having a relative who can serve as a guarantor, and not being involved in an educational or training program, such as college, can all lead to a denial of credit.
Credit Invisible by Age and Ethnicity
Credit invisibility can be broken down even further, by age and ethnicity. Though the numbers are fairly similar between 18- to 19-year-old white and Asian Americans (at 63.9% and 65.6%, respectively) and Black and Hispanic Americans (at 66.6% and 64.0%), the similarities end there. In the age 25 to 29 range, only 6% of white Americans and 9.2% of Asian Americans are considered credit invisible. However, 11.1% of Black Americans and 15.5% of Hispanic Americans within this same category are already credit invisible.
The numbers are also much different for those in their senior years. For those aged 70 to 74, 9.4% of white Americans and 15.5% of Asian Americans are credit invisible. At the same time, 17.8% of Black Americans and 18% of Hispanic Americans are invisible within the same group.
Credit Invisible by Age and Race or Ethnicity
18 to 19
20 to 24
25 to 29
30 to 34
35 to 39
Source: Data Point: Credit Invisibles. CFPB 2015
Credit Invisible by Geography
Location correlates to credit invisibility and unscorability as well. Among the categories of rural, micropolitan (which contains urban areas), and metropolitan, those who live in rural areas scored the highest by far for credit invisibility, at 15% of inhabitants. Next-highest in terms of invisibility are those within micropolitan or urban areas, with about 12% considered credit invisible. By comparison, only about 6% of folks who live in metropolitan areas, but not within the principal city, are considered credit invisible.
Credit invisibility and unscorability can be higher in rural and urban areas for several reasons, one of which is a lack of access to banking institutions. Poverty levels are also statistically higher in rural and urban areas than in metropolitans, meaning residents may not have access to loans or education. Without these resources, building a credit history can be challenging.
Credit Invisibility FAQs
Credit invisibility and unscorability are major problems for many residents in the U.S. Some folks may not even realize they fall into one of these categories and the terms can be confusing or misunderstood. MoneyGeek answered some of the most common questions about credit invisibility and unscorability below to help demystify these topics.
Expert Insights on Credit Invisibility
MoneyGeek spoke with industry leaders and academics to provide their insight on credit invisibility and credit unscorability. By reviewing their analysis, you can learn more about these complex U.S. credit groups and classifications.
- There are discussions about having alternative data points to determine credit scores for the invisible. What are those data points and what are your thoughts on them?
- Is no credit history better than having a bad one? Why or why not?
- What other means are available for the credit invisible to build a credit score?
CEO of The Annuity Expert
Co-Founder & COO of Finch Money
There’s more to credit than good, bad, or invisible. Learn more about credit cards, credit scores, and tips for improving your credit in the references below.
- A Guide to Credit for Hispanics and Latinos: Hispanic and Latino Americans are among the largest groups of credit invisibles and unscorables. Find tips and strategies to begin building your credit.
- Average Credit Card Interest Rates: It can be tough to build credit if you’ve never opened a credit card and don’t know what certain terms like “APR” even mean. Learn more about credit card interest rates, terminology, and the basics of building credit.
- Average Credit Score by Age: Youth and senior Americans make up a large percentage of credit invisibles and unscorables. Learn more about the average credit score by age in the U.S. and data demonstrating how credit invisibility and unscorability can be related to age.
- Beginning a New Journey in the US: How to Build Credit for Immigrants: Immigrants enter the country with no credit history, which can lead to invisibility and unscorability. Explore ways to build credit as a U.S. resident. This page offers tips for immigrants to begin building credit.
- The Practical Guide to Improving Credit Fast: Without a good existing credit score, it can be difficult to build your credit, eventually leading to unscorability. Discover ways to improve your credit quickly and maintain a good score. This page contains tips for how you can improve your credit fast.
About the Author
- The CFPB Office of Research. "Data Point: Credit Invisibles." Accessed May 2, 2022.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Data Spotlight: Challenges in Rural Banking Access." Accessed May 2, 2022.
- OliverWyman. "Financial Inclusion and Access to Credit." Accessed May 2, 2022.
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