BACK

BartekSzewczyk / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Research and Statistics

Credit score statistics

Credit scores are key to determining whether someone will qualify for a mortgage, loan or credit card and how much interest they’ll pay

Summary

Although there are many reasons why credit scores vary from person to person, it can be illuminating to look at how different groups across the country are faring. Here are some of the most interesting credit score statistics from recent years.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

If you want to know how Americans are doing financially, take a look at their credit scores.

Credit scores are key to determining whether someone will qualify for a mortgage, loan or credit card and how much interest they’ll have to pay. They also help shed light on people’s financial situations. The higher the score, the more likely someone is in good financial health and will be approved for a favorable loan.

A lower credit score, by contrast, could indicate that someone is spending more than they earn and struggling to pay bills. Or, it could result from a big financial stressor, such as a lost job, low wages, unstable work hours or sudden medical bills.

Although there are many reasons why credit scores vary from person to person, it can be illuminating to look at how different groups across the country are faring. Here are some of the most interesting credit score statistics from recent years.

See related: FICO’s 5 factors: The components of a credit score

What is the average credit score in the U.S.? 

Research conducted by two of the largest credit scorers in the country, FICO and VantageScore, shows that people across the U.S. are currently enjoying significantly better credit scores than they have in the past.

As of July 2020, the average FICO score, for example, has climbed to 711 – up from an average of 706 in July 2019.1

FICO scores, the most commonly used credit scoring model, typically range from 300 to 850 points.

Average credit scores have been trending upward since the Great Recession, when many people were struggling with recession-related layoffs, underwater mortgages and other financial problems. In April 2009, for example, the average U.S. FICO score was just 687.1

But even before the recession, average FICO scores were lower than they are now. In October 2005, for example, the average FICO score stood at just 688 – 23 points lower than in 2020. According to FICO, the higher scores could be due, in part, to consumers’ increased access to free credit scores and credit education materials.

It may seem surprising that FICO found consumers’ scores continuing to rise during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, FICO’s Ethan Dornhelm noted in an October 2020 blog post that the impact of a major economic event on credit scores tends to lag the event itself. Furthermore, federal stimulus, unemployment extensions and relief efforts from major card issuers may have artificially propped up many consumers’ scores.

The credit scoring firm highlighted three major factors contributing to the rise in FICO scores:

  • The percentage of consumers with severe delinquencies in the past six months dropped from 8.1% in January 2020 to 7.3% in  July, despite massive job losses brought on by the pandemic.
  • From January to July, consumers reduced their average card debt from $6,934 to $6,004. High card balances can increase your credit utilization – the second most important factor in FICO’s scoring model.
  • FICO scores are not negatively affected by forbearance or deferment agreements, which were offered by most major credit card issuers amid the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

Research conducted by Experian found that the average VantageScore – which is the credit score model developed by Experian, TransUnion and Equifax – has also increased in recent years. As with FICO, VantageScores typically range from 300 to 850. But because VantageScore uses a different scoring algorithm to evaluate potential borrowers, consumers may notice significant differences in their VantageScore compared to their FICO score.2

According to Experian’s State of Credit Report, the average consumer with a credit score boasted a 688 VantageScore in 2020 – up from a 682 VantageScore the year prior. In 2017, the average VantageScore was 13 points lower, ending the year at 675. In 2015, it was 19 points lower, settling at 669.2,3

Credit scores also vary substantially by geography and age. Experian’s annual State of Credit Report, for example, has consistently found that people living in the upper Midwest – particularly in Minnesota – tend to have higher scores, on average, than people living in the Southeast. Median household incomes in states with stronger scores also tend to be higher than in other states. Similarly, older borrowers tend to have higher scores than recent grads.2

See related: 10 tips to improve your credit score

Older borrowers have higher scores, but younger people’s scores are climbing

Baby boomers and members of the Silent Generation – many of whom are homeowners with substantial savings – enjoy some of the highest credit scores. The oldest borrowers studied by Experian, for example, had an average credit score of 729 in 2020, while Baby Boomers enjoyed an average score of 716. Members of Generation X fare significantly worse, averaging just a 676 VantageScore.2

Not surprisingly, young and inexperienced borrowers have the lowest credit scores, on average – but they’re improving.  Millennials, for example, averaged a 658 credit score (up from 647 in 2019), while members of Generation Z averaged a 654 score (from 641 the prior year).2

Average VantageScore by age group

Age group20192020
Silent Generation731729
Baby boomers710716
Generation X665676
Millennials647658
Generation Z641654

Source: Experian

Experian’s data show Gen Zers and millennials reduced their use of available credit by 6% and 5%, respectively, and both generations decreased their card balances despite carrying more cards on average. The Silent Generation had the lowest utilization ratio at 13%, although it was the only age group to see a credit score decrease from 2019 to 2020.

Although Gen Xers carried the highest average card balance ($7,718) and utilization (32%) of all groups, they improved their average credit score by 11 points.

Experian State of Credit 2020 credit and debt statistics

20192020
Average VantageScore682688
Average number of credit cards3.073
Average credit card balance$6,629$5,897
Average revolving utilization rate30%26%
Average number of retail credit cards2.512.42
Average retail credit card balance$1,942$2,044
Average nonmortgage debt$25,386$25,483
Average mortgage debt$213,599$215,655
Average 30-59 days past due delinquency rates3.9%2.4%
Average 60-89 days past due delinquency rates1.9%1.3%
Average 90-180 days past due delinquency rates6.8%3.8%

Source: Experian

Borrowers in wealthier states continue to boast the highest credit scores

Minnesotans must be doing something right when it comes to managing their credit: for the fourth consecutive year, Gopher State residents won the nation’s top spot for highest average credit scores, according to Experian. The average Minnesota resident enjoys a 720 credit score, which is high enough to qualify for a range of competitive credit products, including many of the best rewards cards.2

Vermont residents came in a close second this year. Residents of the Green Mountain State enjoy an average VantageScore of 712, according to Experian. Meanwhile, residents of South Dakota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin also have average scores well above 700.2

Although it’s not clear why certain states enjoy higher scores than others, the top performing states do share something else in common: according to the Census Bureau, many of them boast relatively high median incomes. The median income in Minnesota, for example, is $68,411. In New Hampshire, it’s $74,057. The median income in the U.S., by contrast, is $60,293.4

Meanwhile, several of the states with the lowest average credit scores also have some of the lowest incomes in the country, making it tough for many residents to pay their bills. In Mississippi, for example, the median income is just $43,567. It’s also the state with the lowest average credit score in the country: the average Magnolia State resident has a 658 VantageScore, which is considered “fair,” according to Experian.

Louisiana residents also fare poorly in Experian’s survey. Pelican State residents, for example, have a median income of just $47,942 and an average VantageScore of 661. Average scores in Georgia, Alabama and Texas were also found to be among the lowest nationwide. 2, 4

Credit scores by state

Top credit scores
StateAverage VantageScoreMedian Income 
Minnesota720$68,411
Vermont712$60,076
South Dakota712$56,499
New Hampshire711$74,057
Wisconsin711$59,209

Source: Experian and U.S. Census Bureau

Lowest credit scores
StateAverage VantageScoreMedian Income 
Mississippi658$43,567
Louisiana661$47,942
Georgia665$55,679
Alabama665$48,486
Texas666$59,570

Source: Experian and U.S. Census Bureau

Credit scores are affected by a wide range of factors, including the amount of debt a person has, what kinds of loans they’ve taken out and how long they’ve been successfully using credit.

The single most important factor impacting a person’s credit score, though, is their payment history.

According to additional research from Experian, Americans across the country are doing a better job of paying their bills on time, helping to improve their scores.

For example, an October 2019 analysis found that the majority of cities have seen the proportion of residents falling behind on loan payments drop significantly in recent years. Residents are also enjoying higher average credit scores in the vast majority of American cities, Experian found, thanks in part to fewer delinquent accounts.5

In some cities, for example, average FICO scores have increased by nearly 20 to 30 percentage points since 2014. These same cities have also enjoyed dramatic reductions in the number of residents who have fallen behind on loan payments. In Camden, New Jersey, for example, the ratio of delinquent accounts has fallen by more than 32 percentage points, from 80.6 percent to 48.5 percent. In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the ratio of delinquent accounts has dropped by nearly 26 percentage points, falling from 41.4% to just 15.5%.5

Cities that have enjoyed the biggest drop in delinquent accounts

Cities2014 Ratio of Delinquent Accounts2019 Ratio of Delinquent AccountsChange in average FICO score
Camden, NJ80.6%48.5%+28 points
Lancaster, PA41.4%15.5%+16 points
Pontiac, MI67.9%44.9%+28 points
Griffin, GA49%26.1%+19 points
Detroit, MI71.6%49.3%+27 points

Source: Experian

Consumers’ credit knowledge has declined, despite uptick in confidence

Access to free credit scores has increased dramatically in recent years now that a large number of credit card issuers and personal finance sites offer complimentary access to scores.

As a result, the percentage of consumers who report seeing their score at least once in the past year has significantly increased. According to VantageScore and the Consumer Federation of America’s 2019 Credit Score Knowledge survey, around 55% of consumers say they’ve seen their score sometime in the past year – up from 42% in 2012.

However, a July 2020 survey by VantageScore and CFA revealed a disparity in credit score knowledge between consumers at different income levels. For instance, 92% of consumers who earn at least $75,000 per year know that credit card issuers use credit scores. That number falls to 76% among survey respondents who earn less than $25,000 per year. And 92% of high-earners know that high credit card balances affect credit scores, compared to only 76% of low-earners.6

Many consumers aren’t even aware of just how dramatically bad credit can affect them. For example, an April 2019 survey by U.S. World News and Report found that 34% of consumers are unaware of the impact of a low credit score.7

Many consumers are also misinformed about what affects their credit scores, U.S. News and World Report found. For example, fewer than 40 percent of consumers know that revolving a balance on a credit card won’t improve a credit score. Around a quarter of consumers mistakenly believe their income affects their score. Just half of consumers know that on-time payments can help improve a credit score.7

See related: 10 things you must know about credit reports and credit scores

Consumers say they want to learn more

Most consumers agree that financial literacy and credit knowledge is important. According to a March 2020 Equifax survey, around 88% of consumers believe that high schools should include a mandatory financial literacy course in their curriculums.8

Despite showing limited knowledge of their finances, many people say they’re open to learning more about personal finance and credit, Equifax found. For example, in a 2019 FICO survey, 67% of consumers said they’d consider participating in a financial literacy program if it was “free and easily available.” Only 12% of consumers ruled it out.

Bottom line

Most consumers could use a refresher course on credit scores, multiple surveys have found. However, despite their shaky financial knowledge, Americans overall are handling credit much better than they have in the past.

Sources

  1. FICO blog
  2. Experian’s State of Credit 2020 Study
  3. Experian’s State of Credit 2018 Study
  4. Census data: Median income by state
  5. Experian blog
  6. VantageScore and Consumer Federation of America’s 2020 Credit Score Knowledge Survey
  7. U.S. News and World Report’s 2019 Financial Literacy Survey
  8. Equifax’s 2020 Financial Literacy Survey

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

What’s up next?

In Research and Statistics

FTC: Many credit report disputes go unresolved

When a credit bureau rejects a complaint about an error, only 30 percent of people agree that their report is accurate

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: November 25th, 2020
Business
13.91%
Airline
15.50%
Cash Back
15.85%
Reward
15.75%
Student
16.12%

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more