Although the average FICO score has risen to 711, we might not be out of the woods yet.
This represents a five-point jump from the average score just one year ago.
In a recent blog post on the average FICO Score, FICO’s Ethan Dornhelm noted that there is a “bit of a lag between when a major macroeconomic event occurs and when the FICO score reflects that event on an aggregate basis.”
He added that it typically “takes a few months for the effects of that event and the accompanying financial strain to start to show up in consumers’ credit reports, in the form of rising balances, credit seeking behavior, and eventually for some, missed payments.”
According to FICO, after the Great Recession, it took until late 2009 – when it was in full swing – for the average score to hit its lowest (686).
Consumers have received government stimulus payments and the private sector has received lender payment accommodations, so it might be a while until credit reports are affected due to the latest crisis.
See related: What is a FICO score? How to improve it?
The average score rose due to three factors
FICO found the following things have contributed to the average score rising:
- Missed payments are down. Only 7.3% of the population had a 90-plus-day past-due missed payment in the past six months (as of July 2020), a figure that has dropped from 8.1% since January 2020.
- Consumer debt levels are dropping. The average credit card debt of U.S. consumers was $6,004 as of July 2020, compared with an average of $6,934 in January 2020.
- Your FICO score isn’t affected by forbearance or deferment agreements. If your account is listed as “current” with credit reporting codes related to forbearance or deferment (or it’s noted that you’ve been affected by a disaster) your FICO score won’t drop. According to FICO, since the pandemic, millions of people have accounts that have reported payment accommodations of some sort.
FICO scores’ rise could be artificial
Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com, said the current credit score picture is brighter than he would have anticipated during a recession, but it could be artificial.
Stimulus funds, hardship programs and people spending less are all major factors and FICO itself admits credit scores tend to be a lagging indicator.
Rossman noted that if delinquencies were merely delayed but not totally avoided, scores will suffer at some point.
“In short, we’re seeing a lot of ‘so far, so good’ trends with respect to credit scores during the pandemic, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” Rossman said.