Average Credit Score in America: 2021 Report


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Amidst bad economic news in 2020, there was a bright spot. Consumer credit scores increased by leaps and bounds thanks to a reduction in late payments and an aggressive effort to reduce credit card debt.

With reduced consumer spending, thousands of dollars in government stimulus funds, and smart tactics like loan consolidation and balance transfer cards, many people got a better handle on their debt.

But there may be change afoot for credit scores, too — President Joe Biden has expressed interest in a public credit reporting agency that would take the place of credit bureaus like Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. That would cause a huge shift in how we keep track of creditworthiness.

Until that happens, though, we’ll continue to use systems like the FICO® Score. Let’s take a look at how the average American’s credit looks in 2021.

Key findings

  • The average FICO® Score in the United States is 711.
  • The average VantageScore among Americans in 688.
  • 22% of American adults have FICO® Scores of 800 or more, putting them in the “exceptional” range.
  • Americans generally attain higher credit scores as they age, with members of the silent generation having the highest FICO® Scores and VantageScores.
  • Men and women had the same average credit score in the first quarter of 2020.
  • Mississippi has the lowest average credit score at 675, while Minnesota has the highest at 739.
  • Homeowners have higher credit scores than renters, on average.
  • Income has little impact on credit score when other factors are considered, but households making $101,000 to $150,000 are the most likely to have perfect FICO® Scores.
  • In 2010, 26 million American adults were “credit invisible” and had no record with credit reporting agencies. A further 19 million had insufficient credit history to receive a credit score.

FICO® Score vs. VantageScore

Many people don’t realize that there are actually multiple credit scores. These are two of the most common:

  • FICO® Score uses a credit scoring model designed by the Fair Isaac Corporation.
  • VantageScore is an alternative to FICO developed by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion in 2006.

Early models of the VantageScore system scored consumers on a scale of 501 to 990. Today, both are on a scale of 300 to 850.

It’s also helpful to understand how your score compares to the average, both in the United States generally and for people within your demographic group.

The data below on the average credit scores in America will tell you everything you need to know to see where you stand when it comes to your credit.

Average credit score in the United States: 711

The average FICO® Score among American consumers is 711, according to myFICO. This is classified as a “good” score. (We’ve reported this as the overall average credit score in the United States because FICO® is used more often than VantageScore for lending decisions.)

This is an increase of five points from 2019’s average score of 706. It continues a multi-year trend, as the average FICO score increased in nine of 10 previous years.

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However, while most recent increases were one or two points annually, this year’s increase is the largest in a decade.

Average FICO® credit score in the United States: 711

Average VantageScore in the United States: 688

The average VantageScore also saw a substantial year-over-year increase. The average reached 688 in 2020, according to Experian. This is an increase of six points over 2019.

Average VantageScore in the United States: 688

What’s a good credit score? 670+ for FICO®, 661+ for VantageScore

Here’s how FICO defines credit score ranges:

FICO® Score range

Rating

300–580

Poor

580–669

Fair

670–739

Good

740–799

Very good

800–850

Exceptional

Data source: myFICO.

While lenders may use different credit score ranges, these are the official ranges provided by FICO®.

How about VantageScore? Here are the credit score ranges provided by Experian:

VantageScore range

Rating

300–499

Very poor

500–600

Poor

601–660

Fair

661–780

Good

781–850

Excellent

Data source: Experian.

While the numbers aren’t exactly the same as those provided by FICO®, they’re comparable.

Credit score distribution chart

In general, more Americans have good credit scores than poor ones. The most recent data on credit score distribution in the United States comes from FICO’s April 2019 data, represented in the credit score distribution chart below:

FICO® Score distribution, April 2019

Average credit score by age

Credit scores tend to increase as people develop a longer history of on-time payments. That’s because payment history is one of the key components of credit score. As consumers age, they also take on new financial responsibilities, such as mortgages and car loans. This provides the desired diversity in types of credit that also helps to increase credit scores.

Because younger Americans had more room for improvement, they saw more substantial increases in their average credit score than baby boomers or the silent generation last year. The table below shows both average FICO scores by age as well as the year-over-year change in the average.

Age

Average FICO® Score, 2019

Average FICO® Score, 2020

Change

Gen Z (18–24)

667

674

+7

Millennials (25–40)

668

679

+11

Gen X (41–56)

688

698

+10

Baby boomers (57–75)

731

736

+5

Silent generation (76+)

757

758

+1

Data source: Experian.

Changes to the average VantageScore revealed a similar trend. However, while FICO® Scores rose across all generations, the silent generation saw a slight decline in their average. Their score remains the highest of any age cohort overall, though.

Age

Average VantageScore, 2019

Average VantageScore, 2020

Change

Gen Z (18–24)

641

654

+13

Millennials (25–40)

647

658

+11

Gen X (41–56)

655

676

+21

Baby boomers (57–75)

710

716

+6

Silent generation (76+)

731

729

-2

Data source: Experian

Average credit score by gender

In the first quarter of 2020, both men and women shared the same average credit score of 705, according to Experian data.

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This reflects a change from older data. As recently as 2019, Experian reported that the average FICO® Score for women was 704, lagging slightly below the 705 average for their male counterparts.

Federal Reserve data from 2018 also showed single men had higher VantageScores than single women within the same age groups. The research focused on singles because single men and women are responsible for making their own financial decisions while married couples are presumed to make joint decisions on financial issues.

Average credit score by state

In an unprecedented year, there was also an unprecedented nationwide increase in average FICO® Scores. In past years, scores rose in some states but fell in others. In 2020, average FICO® Scores increased in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

In most cases, these increases were dramatic. In every state (as well as the District of Columbia), average scores rose by at least three points. And in 25 states, average scores went up more than the seven-point nationwide average increase.

What’s your state’s average now? Mouse over each state to see average FICO® Scores in 2020.

Average credit scores of homeowners vs. renters

In 2020, millions of Americans took out mortgage loans for the first time as mortgage interest rates hit record lows.

However, credit standards tightened for mortgages. The New York Federal Reserve reported the median credit score for borrowers taking out new mortgages hit 786, which is a record high and well above the national average score.

While average credit scores among mortgage borrowers soared, there has long been a history of homeowners having higher scores than renters. This occurs in large part because high scores are necessary to qualify for a mortgage and become a homeowner.

2016 data from the Urban Institute compares average scores of homeowners and renters, highlighting the disparity.

Average credit score by income

Income has little impact on your credit score.

In fact, Experian reported that 38% of people with perfect FICO® Scores in 2018 had an income of $75,000 or under. Further, a smaller percentage of individuals with incomes over $150,000 had a perfect credit score compared with individuals with an income between $76,000 and $150,000.

The chart below shows Experian’s data on the percentage of Americans with perfect scores based on their income range.

Income

Percent with a perfect FICO® Score

Under $25,000

8.10%

$25,000 to $50,000

11.49%

$51,000 to $75,000

18.74%

$76,000 to $100,000

20.49%

$101,000 to $150,000

21.09%

$151,000 to $250,000

20.09%

Data source: Experian.

Older data from the Federal Reserve also found only a moderate correlation between income and consumer credit scores. And after accounting for factors such as age and college education, the impact of income on credit scoring was found to be even more minimal than initial data would suggest.

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Credit invisibles

America’s three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — collect data on approximately 220 million Americans. However, as Demos, a left-leaning think tank, reported in 2019, millions of Americans have been excluded from traditional avenues of building credit. This is especially true of minorities.

This history of exclusion has prompted President Joe Biden to propose the development of a public credit registry to replace the current credit bureaus and to be managed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A fundamental change in the way credit data is collected could impact millions of people who are considered “credit invisibles” because they have an insufficient credit history to receive a score.

Older data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that:

  • 26 million U.S. consumers, or 11% of the adult population, were considered credit invisibles as of 2010. Credit invisibles have no record with credit reporting agencies at all, so no score can be generated.
  • 19 million U.S. consumers, or 8.3% of the adult population, had a credit record but their credit history was insufficient to assign them a credit score.

Some Americans are far more likely than others to lack a credit score:

  • Approximately 30% of consumers in low-income neighborhoods are credit invisible, compared with 4% of adults in upper-income neighborhoods.
  • An additional 15% of consumers in low-income neighborhoods have unscored records compared with 5% in upper-income neighborhoods.
  • 15% of Blacks and Hispanics are credit invisible, compared with 9% of Whites and Asians.*
  • 13% of Blacks and 12% of Hispanics have unscored records, compared with 7% of Whites.*

*Note: In CFPB’s Credit Invisibles Report, they focused on four different racial or ethnic groups: Hispanics or Latinos (“Hispanics”), Non-Hispanic Asians (“Asians”), Non-Hispanic Blacks or African Americans (“Blacks”), and Non-Hispanic Whites (“Whites”).

President Biden’s proposal would draw from new data sources while excluding certain types of adverse information such as delinquencies on predatory loans or medical debt. This could open up new doors for millions who face unprecedented struggles accessing the financial products that others take for granted.

2020 saw major changes in average credit scores, but 2021 could see an even bigger change

The global pandemic and the government response to COVID-19 enabled millions of Americans to pay down debt, stay current on payments, and take more significant strides in improving their credit health than at any time in recent history.

However, millions of Americans have still been left behind even as average credit scores improved. If President Biden is successful in shifting the way in which credit data is collected, this could be one of the most significant shifts in the history of the U.S. financial system due to the outsized role that credit scoring plays in all consumer transactions.

Sources


View more information: https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/research/average-credit-score/

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