The average credit score in the United States is 711, an all-time high according to credit score developer FICO. Not only is the average FICO® score better than it has ever been, but American consumer scores have increased steadily over the past decade.
The reason credit scores are so important is that lenders, insurance companies, and other businesses regularly use them to assess risk. Consumer credit scores designed by FICO and VantageScore Solutions predict the likelihood of you defaulting on a credit obligation (paying 90 days late or worse) over the next 24 months.
Credit scores range from 300 to 850, with higher scores indicating that you are more likely to pay your bills on time. Read on to find out where different types of Americans land on this credit score scale and to see how your number stacks up against others.
Average credit score by age
Credit score models do not take your age into account when calculating your credit score. Still, the age of the accounts on your credit reports is important from a credit score perspective. Older accounts and a higher average credit age could increase your credit score.
Of course, older people are more likely to have longer credit histories. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that older people tend to have higher credit scores than their younger counterparts. The silent generation (75 years old) has an average FICO score 84 points higher than that of the Z generation (18-23 years old).
The following chart shows the average credit score by generation so you can see how you stack up against others in your age group.
Average credit score by location
Your city, town or state of residence is another factor that has no direct effect on your credit score. Still, data shows that the average credit score varies depending on where you live.
The southeastern region of the United States has the lowest credit scores on average. Meanwhile, scores tend to increase in the Midwest and Northeast. Mississippi – at 675 – is the state with the lowest average FICO score. Minnesota held on to the top spot for another year with a FICO score of 739.
On a positive note, the average credit score increased in all states between 2019 and 2020. Three states – Arizona, Idaho and Nevada – and the District of Columbia saw their scores increase by 10 points.
Below is a breakdown of the average credit score in each of the 50 states in 2019 and 2020.
Average FICO score over the years
As mentioned above, the average FICO score has increased year on year over the past decade. But this was not always the case. Between 2005 and 2010, FICO scores in the United States were a little lower than current numbers. The average score also fluctuated more over this five-year period.
In October 2005, the average FICO score was only 688, 23 points lower than today. Fast forward to April 2011 and the average FICO score is back to the same 688.
How to get better credit scores
A FICO score of 711 is considered a good credit score by most lenders. So if you have a credit score that is close to the national average, you will likely be able to qualify for many types of financing. However, you shouldn’t expect to receive the best offers from a lender when it comes to interest rates and loan terms.
Of course, for some types of financing, lenders and credit card issuers may require an exceptional range of credit scores. You might have a hard time qualifying for such accounts if your FICO score is just average.
If your credit score is at or below average, it may be beneficial for you to work on improving it. Here are four expert tips that can help move your credit score in the right direction.
1. Start with a credit check
You will want to start any credit improvement plan with a check of your three credit reports from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Credit scoring models rely on the details of your credit reports to calculate your credit scores. If incorrect information is present, it could have a negative impact on the credit score.
Currently, you can visit AnnualCreditReport.com to download free credit reports every week. This benefit is available until April 2022 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Normally, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you free access to your credit reports once every 12 months through the same website.
2. Correct Credit Report Errors
If you find any errors when you review your credit reports, you can dispute them with one of the three credit reporting agencies. Simply submit your dispute form, call the appropriate credit bureau, or initiate a dispute online to start the process.
When a credit bureau receives your dispute, it has 30 to 45 days to investigate your complaint and send you a response with the results of its investigation. Both Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provide free sample dispute letters that you can use if you need them.
3. Never pay late
Much of your FICO score – 35% – comes from the payment history on your credit report. When you pay on time, you protect your credit score from potential damage. However, if you pay a credit obligation 30 days late or worse, your score can quickly turn negative.
A late payment can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. If you are struggling with the habit of late payments, breaking it is essential. Spending cuts or redesigning your budget can help if you’re juggling bills. You can also try setting up automatic payments if your late payment issue is due to an oversight.
4. Deal with your credit card debt
Your credit utilization rate (the percentage of your credit card limits used) is another significant credit scoring factor. A lower usage rate is better when it comes to your credit scores.
Paying the minimum payment, or anything less than your statement balance, is not the best way to manage your credit card accounts. Instead, you should aim to pay off your credit cards in full each month. This approach will save you money and may help you achieve better credit scores.
If you can’t afford to pay off your credit cards, it could help you consolidate your debt. You can also try to reduce your account balances one by one using a debt elimination strategy like snowballing or debt flooding. Regardless of the approach, it’s critical to stop overspending and only charge what you can afford to pay each month as you go along with your credit cards.
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After a tough year, it’s comforting to know that credit scores are still on the rise, both overall and in every state and generation. By maintaining diligent spending habits, Americans can continue the trend as the country begins to recover from both Covid-19 and the financial havoc the virus has taken to the economy.