This Study Shows There’s a Gender Credit Score Gap of 22 Points. Here’s How to Close It

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We talk about the gender wage gap, but what about the gender credit score gap?

The median credit score for men is 22 points higher than for women, according to a Federal Reserve analysis.

So what can we, as women, do?

Not to be cliché or anything, but knowledge is power, and understanding why we have lower credit scores — and exactly how to increase yours — is the first step to closing this gap.

And here’s a bit of good news: Increasing your credit score might not be as difficult as you’d expect. There are free services like Credit Sesame that make the process straightforward.

Why Women Have Lower Credit Scores Than Men

No, women don’t have a lower credit score because they’re bad with money or like to go shopping when they’re sad. Puhlease give that a break.

Rather, the credit score gap can be attributed to, in part, the gender wage gap.

Within the 31- to 40-year-old single demographic the Federal Reserve analyzed, men make, on average, nearly $3,500 more per year than women, according to the 2017 Census Bureau American Community Survey. That means women have $3,500 less to cover the same expenses men face.

This could lead to more debt, higher credit-utilization rates or more bills in collections… which is exactly what seems to happen.

The Federal Reserve found that women’s median debt owed is $11,000 more than men’s. We also have higher credit-utilization rates and higher rates of late payments. Credit utilization and payment history together make up 65% of your credit score.

(If you’re not sure what your credit utilization rate is, Credit Sesame has gotcha covered.)

“The credit-score gaps reflect the fact that single women have more intensive use of credit and have experienced more difficulties repaying their debt in the past,” the Federal Reserve concludes.

How to Reclaim Those 22 Points (and Hundreds More)

You can start by checking your credit score for free with Credit Sesame. It takes less than two minutes to sign up, and you’ll immediately see your score for free.

To find out exactly what’s holding you back, you’ll want to tap into your credit report card — also free. Credit Sesame takes each factor that affects your score and gives you a grade.

The best part is Credit Sesame offers actionable tips that tell you exactly how to raise your score.

Elisabeth Nyang followed those tips. The single mom dreamed of one day owning a home, but her credit score didn’t break 500. She used Credit Sesame to increase her credit score 168 points in a little over a year.

“I like how everything’s in layman’s terms,” she says. “It’s user-friendly, and it’s easy to understand.”

Like Nyang, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.

So if you’re ready to close the gender credit score gap, access your credit score and credit report card for free from Credit Sesame.

Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. The Penny Hoarder data journalist Alex Mahadevan contributed reporting to this article.