What Is the Average Credit Score?

The average FICO credit score in the U.S. is 717. The average VantageScore, another frequently used credit scoring model, is 702.

“There are hundreds of different credit scores, and they all use the information in your credit report to generate a score,” says Rod Griffin, senior director of consumer education and advocacy at Experian. “People often get caught up getting the highest credit score, but this usually isn’t necessary.”

Instead, he advises focusing on ensuring the information in your credit report is accurate, understanding how that information is used to calculate your credit scores and what steps you can take to improve your score if it’s holding you back from accessing financial opportunities.

[Read: Best Credit Cards.]

What Are the Credit Score Ranges?

Credit scores typically are measured in a range of 300 to 850. These scores are categorized from “poor” all the way up to “excellent,” based on the scoring model used.

FICO score ranges:

— Exceptional: 800 and above.

— Very good: 740-799.

— Good: 670-739.

— Fair: 580-669.

— Poor: 579 and lower.

VantageScore ranges:

— Excellent: 781-850.

— Good: 661-780.

— Fair: 601-660.

— Poor: 500-600.

— Very poor: 300-499.

The average FICO score has increased since 2005 when the average was 688. In April 2005, 6.8% of the population had a FICO score under 500. By April 2023, that percentage had dropped to less than 3% of the population. More than 24% of the population had an exceptional score in 2023 versus only about 16% in 2005.

[Read: Best Credit Cards for Good Credit.]

Average Credit Score by Age

Credit scores tend to vary by age. “In general, we see credit scores tend to improve as people age and gain more experience with credit,” Griffin says. “Older consumers may be carrying less debt, have lower credit utilization rates and fewer missed payments on average than younger consumers. This is why we see the Silent Generation has higher credit scores then Gen Z, for example.”

As of September 2023, the average credit score by age according to Experian data was as follows.

Age Range as of 2023 Average Credit Score
78 and over 760
59 to 77 745
43 to 58 709
27 to 42 690
18 to 26 680

Average Credit Score by State

Average credit scores also tend to vary by state. Minnesota has the highest average credit score at 742 while the state with the lowest average credit score is Mississippi at 680, according to Experian data.

“States with higher credit scores tend to have lower utilization rates, fewer late payments and less debt,” Griffin says. “States with lower credit scores tend to have higher credit utilization rates, a higher frequency of late payments and more debt.”

As of September 2023, the average credit score by state according to Experian data was as follows.

State Average Credit Score
Alabama 692
Alaska 722
Arizona 713
Arkansas 696
California 722
Colorado 731
Connecticut 726
Delaware 715
District of Columbia 715
Florida 708
Georgia 695
Hawaii 732
Idaho 729
Illinois 720
Indiana 713
Iowa 730
Kansas 723
Kentucky 705
Louisiana 690
Maine 731
Maryland 716
Massachusetts 732
Michigan 719
Minnesota 742
Mississippi 680
Missouri 714
Montana 732
Nebraska 731
Nevada 702
New Hampshire 736
New Jersey 725
New Mexico 702
New York 721
North Carolina 709
North Dakota 733
Ohio 716
Oklahoma 696
Oregon 732
Pennsylvania 723
Rhode Island 722
South Carolina 699
South Dakota 734
Tennessee 705
Texas 695
Utah 731
Vermont 737
Virginia 722
Washington 735
West Virginia 703
Wisconsin 737
Wyoming 724

How Can You Improve Your Credit Score?

“Life is much better with a higher score,” says Wayne Durr, a finance professor at Stonehill College. “Your score, in the eyes of lenders, insurance companies and employers, is an indicator of how responsible you are.” The higher your score, the easier it’ll be for you to get loans, credit cards and jobs.

“The good news is that your FICO score is dynamic, and it changes with your credit behavior, so your FICO score today doesn’t have to be your FICO score tomorrow,” says Tommy Lee, senior director of scores and analytics for FICO.

If a low credit score is getting in the way of financial opportunities, consider these tips for how to improve your credit score.

Always Pay Bills On Time

Payment history is the single largest factor in determining your credit score based on both FICO and VantageScore calculations. This shows how important it is to pay your bills on time, even if it means only making the minimum payment, Durr says.

“When possible, pay more than your minimum to pay down your debt,” he says. Continuously paying down your debt will also help improve your credit utilization rate.

Keep Your Utilization Rate Low

“Credit is a financial tool but debt can be a financial problem,” Griffin says. Carrying too much debt can hurt your utilization rate, or the percentage of your available credit you use, which represents the second-largest part of credit score calculations.

“The lower your utilization rate, the better,” he says. “People with the best credit scores have utilization rates of less than 10%.”

This means if you have $50,000 of available credit across all your credit lines, you should aim to use no more than $5,000 of it at any one time.

You can also ask your credit card company to raise your credit limit, which can help lower your utilization rate, Durr says. “Don’t request this unless you have been paying your bills on time because a denial of increased credit limit can negatively affect your credit score.”

Don’t Close Old Accounts

It may seem counterintuitive, but if you have a credit account you’re no longer using, don’t close it. Just stop using it, Durr says. “In some instances, closing a credit account can hurt your score,” he adds.

Closing the account will reduce your available credit, thus increasing your utilization score.

Plan for Major Credit Purchases

“When preparing to make a major purchase, it is critical to demonstrate stability in the three to six months leading up to it,” Griffin says.

One way to keep your credit score in top shape before a big purchase is to avoid anything that could lead to a credit inquiry.

“While the impact is low, recent inquiries on your credit report can temporarily hurt your scores,” Griffin says. “If you plan to make a significant purchase such as a mortgage, it’s a good practice to avoid opening any new accounts, or closing them, during the months leading up to the application.”

And hold off on any big purchases until your application has been approved and all the paperwork finalized, he says.

Check Your Credit Report Regularly

Errors on your credit report can negatively impact your credit score, so it’s a good idea to review your credit report regularly. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus weekly at AnnualCreditReport.com.

If you spot an error, reach out to the credit reporting bureau right away to get it fixed.

Use Credit Boosting Tools

You can also use tools like Experian Boost to help improve your credit score. The tool lets you apply regular bill payments, such as for your cellphone, streaming service or utilities, to your credit score calculations.

“We see scores improve for two out of three people who use Experian Boost with an average increase of 13 points,” Griffin says.

[Read: Best Cash Back Credit Cards.]

Why Is Your Credit Score Important?

“Our economy runs on credit,” Durr says. “Your credit score has a major impact on your financial status.”

It is the key variable lenders use to determine whether they’ll give you credit and also plays a role in your interest rates and loan terms, he says. Employers may check your credit score before offering you a job, and landlords may only rent to people with strong credit.

“In some instances, good credit isn’t even about making a purchase,” Griffin says. For example, you may want to pay for a rental car in cash, but the rental company will still require a credit check before renting you a vehicle.

Durr teaches his students to start building their credit in their junior year of college so they’ll have time to develop a solid payment history by the time they apply for an apartment or buy a car after graduation.

Even if college is far behind you, it’s never too late to start improving your credit score. A little knowledge about credit score calculations and responsible credit behavior can go a long way to helping you achieve a “very good” or even an “exceptional” credit score.

More from U.S. News

What Is a Fair Credit Score?

What Are the Credit Score Ranges?

The Difference Between Hard and Soft Inquiries

What Is the Average Credit Score? originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 06/28/24: This story was previously published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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