Credit score statistics

By  |  Updated: December 8, 2016

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If you want to know how Americans are doing financially, take a look at their credit scores. Credit scores are key to determining whether you'll qualify for a mortgage, loan or credit card and how much interest you'll pay. The higher your score, the more likely you'll be approved for a favorable loan.

The credit scores of Americans tend to fluctuate over time, with different scoring systems showing slightly different results. FICO scores, the most commonly used model, range from 300 to 850 points. The average FICO score was 699 as of July 2016, up from 696 in October 2015 and 695 in April 2015.1

FICO score grades
FICO score Grade
800+ Exceptional
740-799 Very good
670-739 Good
580-669
Fair
Lower than 580 Poor
Source: FICO

According to FICO, the number of consumers scoring in the super-prime range of 800 or above is growing, and in April 2016, more than 20 percent of the population was in this range – the highest percentage ever since FICO began tracking this metric in 2005.1

VantageScore, the model developed by Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, also shows rising average scores, though they trend a bit lower than the FICO numbers. Like FICO, VantageScores also range from 300 to 850. The average VantageScore in the U.S. in 2016 was 673, up from 669 in 2015.2

However, the average VantageScore rises with age – presumably as consumers build their credit history. Experian's State of Credit 2016 report found that baby boomers and the Silent Generation (68-85 years old) have scores 700 and above, while Gen Xers averaged a 655 VantageScore, and millennials averaged a 634 score. Gen Z had the lowest score at 631.2

Credit scores vary by geography, too. The Experian State of Credit 2016 report found the highest average VantageScores clustered around the upper Midwest, while the lowest average scores tended to be in the South and West.

Credit scores by state2
Top credit scores
State Avg. VantageScore Avg. debt Number of credit cards Avg. balance on bank cards Credit utilization %
Mankato, Minn. 708
$32,536 2.27
$4,011 24
Rochester, Minn. 708
$35,973 2.27
$4,329 24
Minneapolis 707
$37,699 2.46
$5,315 26
Green Bay, Wis. 704
$33,034 2.22
$4,363 24
Wausau, Wis.
704
$31,975 2.12
$4,144 25
Duluth, Minn.
703
$34,782 2.12
$4,825 26
Sioux Falls, S.D.
703
$39,269 2.27
$4,661 25
La Cross, Wis.
703
$32,895 2.21
$4,223 25
Fargo, N.D.
703
$37,966 2.39
$4,661 25
Madison, Wis. 702
$35,815 2.3
$4,545 26
Lowest credit scores
State Avg. VantageScore Avg. debt Number of credit cards Avg. balance on bank cards Credit utilization %
Greenwood, Miss. 622 $38,201 1.67 $4,125 37
Albany, Ga. 624 $38,580 1.98 $4,787 36
Harlingen, Texas 631 $35,690 1.53 $4,618 35
Riverside, Calif. 632 $37,659 2.21 $5,026 37
Laredo, Texas 635 $35,799 2.03 $4,436 36
Monroe, La.
639 $41,610 1.81 $4,596 33
Alexandria, La. 639 $38,863 1.85 $4,611 33
Bakersfield, Calif. 639 $35,138 2.06 $4,460 33
Corpus Christi, Texas 639 $41,435 2.04 $5,781 36
Shreveport, La.
640 $41,204 1.92 $5,122 34
Source: Experian

 

We don't check our scores ... or do we?

Despite the importance of credit, many Americans take a hands-off approach to their credit scores. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) found that, as of March 2016, 44 percent of adults had not received their credit score within the previous 12 months.3 That percentage, though, is down from 52 percent in 2015.

According to a 2016 survey by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and VantageScore, however, only 32 percent of Americans have never obtained a copy of their free credit report, and 16 percent have not received a copy in the last three years. Meanwhile, 32 percent have received a copy in the last year, and another 19 percent have received a copy within the last three years.4

College students are even less involved with their credit scores. According to a 2016 study by Equifax, only 45 percent of college students know their credit score. Most college students (43 percent) believe college is the right time to become knowledgeable about credit scores. Most of those who do check their scores get them from a credit card company or bank (41 percent and 33 percent, respectively), while only 3 percent get them via a paid report from a credit bureau.5



Credit score literacy

A lack of knowledge could be why many people don't review their scores – and could explain the large discrepancy between polls. The NFCC study showed that about one in 10 people said they didn’t think they needed their credit score because they already had their credit report.3 According to a 2015 American Bankers Association survey, there is widespread confusion about the difference between credit reports and credit scores. In the ABA survey, 44 percent of Americans expressed the mistaken belief they are two terms for the same thing.6 (They're not: Your credit report is a compilation of credit-related information; your credit score is a three-digit number distilled from the report data.)

The CFA study found more surprising statistics. The majority of respondents did not know that credit scores are used by non-creditors. Only about half (53 percent) know that electric utilities may use credit scores. About two-thirds (66 percent) know that scores may be used by home insurers, cellphone companies (68 percent) and landlords (70 percent).4

Additionally, 38 percent think marital status and 45 percent think age factor into credit scores.4


Credit-card-statistics-road-mapFUN FACT:
A 2016 Bankrate survey found that nearly 4 in 10 adults say knowing someone’s credit score would affect their willingness to date that person. More women (43 percent) than men (32 percent) say a person’s credit would have an impact on their dating interest.8


How Americans describe their credit

While statistics show that many people don't know their credit scores, that doesn't stop them from sounding off on how good their credit is. According to a July 2016 report by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), 60 percent of Americans believe they have above average credit, and 41 percent rate their credit as “very good.”7

However, African-Americans and Hispanics were less optimistic about their credit. The FINRA survey found that only 40 percent of African-American and 53 percent of Hispanic respondents reported that their credit was "very good" or "good" in 2016, while 65 percent of white and 70 percent of Asian respondents gave themselves those ratings.7

Younger Americans (aged 18 to 34) are less likely to rate their credit as “good” or “very good,” with only half giving themselves those ratings. Seventy-two percent of those aged 55 and older, however, described their credit in the two highest tiers.7


Sources

  1. FICO.com blog
  2. Experian's State of Credit 2016 study
  3. 2016 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling
  4. Credit Score Knowledge 2016 Consumer Federation of America
  5. 2016 Equifax College Student Survey
  6. American Bankers Association survey released Jan. 21, 2015
  7. Financial Capability in the United States 2016 FINRA report
  8. Bankrate Money Pulse survey April 2016

See related: Credit card statistics, Credit card debt statistics, Credit card delinquency statistics


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Updated: 10-21-2017

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