Men are from Mars, but women have better credit scores.

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When it comes to men and women, which sex can claim top honors for their credit scores? A recent study by the credit bureau Experian revealed some interesting differences about men and women when it comes to managing their credit and knowledge about how scores and reporting work, and it may not be what you expected.

Making lending or credit decisions based on gender is illegal in the United States, so few bother to collect data and do comprehensive studies. But Experian bucked that trend by pulling the data on credit scores, average debt, utilization ratios, mortgage amounts and mortgage delinquencies of men compared to that of women.

The conclusion? According to the Experian study, men had an average Vantage credit score of 674. And women….drum roll please…opening the envelope…had an average Vantage score of 675, one point higher than their male counterparts.

And while on point is certainly no huge advantage to celebrate, it does highlight a trend that several studies have documented – that “overall, women are better at managing their money and debt,” according to Experian.

 

Crunching the stats, it definitely looks like women have a better general understanding and respect for credit scores and credit reporting. The Experian study concluded that:

48% of men incorrectly believe that marital status factors into credit scores, compared to only 38% of women who mistakenly think the same thing.

46% of men mistakenly think marital status is a factor in scoring, versus only 34% of women who get that wrong.

74% of women understand that the credit bureaus collect the information that’s used for scoring, while only 68% of men realize that.

More women (36%) know what number of range of score is considered good than men (29%.)

Women are more apt to know when scores are free (65%) than men do (60%), know when lenders are mandated to discloses scores (53% to 46% for men), and better understand the importance of regularly checking and monitoring their credit reports (77% to 72% for men.)

“Seeing the divide between how men and women approach credit is interesting,” said Maxine Sweet, Experian vice president of public education. “But what’s most important is understanding the value of building a good credit history. How you manage credit and debt is critical to your financial well-being.”

The study offers encouragement that the gender gap is closing when it comes to finances, at least for credit. Other studies have revealed that men also have 4.3% more debt than women, have a 2% higher credit utilization ratio (not good), and pay late on their mortgages 7% more than women.

Additionally, women tend to be more diligent when it comes to identity theft and protecting sensitive financial data. A study conducted by BankRate.com found that 83% of women were likely to properly dispose of sensitive financial information, as opposed to only 69% of men who did the same.

However, despite evidence that women are better educated and more disciplined when it comes to some facets of credit score and finance, there are still areas where they fall woefully short. Even when their credit scores are the same, women pay higher mortgage rates than men, possibly because they are more reticent to shop around for the best rate. Women also had more open credit accounts then men despite having less total credit because they were more apt to open up store or retail credit cards.

The most discouraging statistic when it comes to women’s financial picture is that when comparing full time workers in the United States, women make 23% less than their male counterparts on average. But the good news is that the gender gap is closing. Female enrollment in college now outnumbers male enrollment by 500,000 across the country, the unemployment rate for women is 3% less than for men, and women are rising fast in their representation in the labor market and management positions. And despite the fact that they still make less money on average, these studies show that women are taking better care of their finances – including their credit scores.

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