The average FICO score in America is 695 and the average Vantage score stands at 673. Currently, Fair Isaac Corp's FICO score and Vantage are two of the most widely used scoring models in the country. Both models range between 300 and 850 - the higher the score, the better. Due to the high economic diversity within the U.S., the average credit score varies greatly among different populations, ages, and income levels, some of which are explored below.
- Average Credit Score
- Average Credit Score by Age
- Average Credit Score by Income
- Credit Score Variations by State
- Average Credit Score of Home Buyers
The average credit score in the United States is currently at an all-time high of 695. Though different scoring models exist, which cause this figure to fluctuate by a few points, most fall between 660 to 720. This coincides with what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau defines as 'prime' - an average score. Approximately 14% of the population has no credit score whatsoever, and is labeled as credit invisible. As a result, these underbanked individuals will have difficulty obtaining new lines of credit.
In the eyes of lenders, credit scores fall into several buckets, which indicate how risky it may be to extend credit to an individual. Outside of playing a role in approvals for a loan or credit, these scores can also impact an individual's lending terms. Perhaps the most important terms among those are interest rates. The higher an individuals credit score, the lower their quoted APR will typically be.
Credit scores typically break down in the following manner:
- 720 or more: Excellent
- 660 - 719: Average/Fair
- 620 - 659: Poor
- 620 or lower: Bad
|Year||Average Credit Score||Subprime Credit Scores (<620)||Near Prime Credit Scores (620 - 680)||Prime credit scores (680+)|
Though the average credit score has been generally improving, a slight dip occurred around the time of the 2009/2010 recession. A large number of people declaring bankruptcy or defaulting on their loans would have caused their credit scores to plummet, which in turn would affect the average.
One of the biggest differences in credit scores can be seen among different age groups. The average FICO score tends to improve with age. The only anomaly occurs in the 30 to 39 age group. These individuals have the largest population of consumers with a sub-620 credit score. This trend coincides with the financial situation facing many individuals in their 30s. It is usually around this period in one's life that major expenses and debt begin to rack up - weddings, first mortgages, etc. A study of American credit card habits revealed that this age group also faces some of the largest amounts of credit card debt.
The other age group whose average credit score skews lower are those below the age of 30. One contributing factor to this could be the limited access to credit this age group faces. Following the 2009 CARD Act, it became significantly harder for 18 to 21 year olds to open new credit card accounts. As a result, many young adults do not begin building up a credit file until later in their life - driving the averages down.
By the time they hit their late forties, most Americans have a good to excellent FICO score. The average continues to improve the older they get.
The higher one's income level, the higher their average credit score tends to be. While debt-to-income ratio does not play a direct role in determining one's credit score, it has an indirect role. One of the factors organizations like FICO consider when modeling an individual's credit risk is their credit utilization - that is what percentage of total available credit a consumer is using month-to-month. Generally, in order to improve one's credit score, credit utilization should be kept below 30%. The lower one's income is, the more a consumer may rely on their credit for their expenditures.
Another way income may play into credit utilization, and ultimately one's credit score, is by determining one's credit limit. Credit issuers look at borrowers incomes when deciding on the amount of revolving credit that should be issued. The lower one's income, the lower line of credit is likely to be. In turn, by having significantly lower credit limits, it becomes easier for low-income individuals to eat up a larger portion of what's available, thus increasing their credit utilization.
The graph below shows the average credit score by an individual's income relative to the median family income (MFI). Individuals surveyed by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank were placed into an income bracket, based on how their earnings compared to the median family income in the Metropolitan Statistical area they resided in - this allowed the survey to control for any outside economic factors throughout different cities.
Generally speaking, the lowest credit scores in America can be found in the southern states – Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Louisiana. While credit utilization in these states remains low, recent studies have found that these regions have the lowest percent of the population with an open credit card or home equity line of credit. Since 2005, most of the nation experienced a decline in open credit accounts, due to the recession. While the rest of the country has begun to recover, these few states continue to exhibit low numbers.
At the same time, credit health in states like Minnesota and North Dakota has exhibited resilience in the face of economic downturn. The average score in these states was 707 and 700, respectively.
Average Credit Score by State
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently conducted a study into the state and availability of credit throughout the United States. New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Nevada, and Florida were the only states where over 40% of the population were considered subprime.
|Average Credit Score by State|
|State||Average Score||Population With Declining Credit||Population with Good/Improved Credit|
Because the current standing paints a frozen snapshot in time of a community's credit score, it is perhaps more revealing to look at the trajectory of credit scores. From this perspective, the same states appear to be underperforming as compared to the national average. In South Carolina, for example, 20% of the population was reported as having weak, struggling, or declining credit situations - that is had a credit bill that was 60 days or more overdue. Mississippi came in at a close second with 19%.
The typical credit score of a homebuyer is 728 - slightly higher than the national average. Of the 85,369 mortgage applicants surveyed by the Federal Reserve, only 6.8% had scores below 620.
In 2010, the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank published a report on the credit circumstances of home borrowers. The data broke down the average credit scores of borrowers based on their minority status. All groups except for Black and African American consumers had average credit scores above 700. Asian borrowers saw the highest average score FICO of 745.
|Group||Average Credit Score of Home Buyer||% of Borrowers with Score < 620|
|Black or African American||677||21.30%|