Economic conditions can vary widely among states. It's difficult to get a complete picture of a given area without taking all the key factors into consideration. In the case of credit scores, knowing the average can help residents of a state see how they compare to their neighbors—and make it simpler for those considering a move to that state to learn more about how they'd fit in economically. It can also be a factor in assessing business opportunities within a state.
- The FICO score national average was 714 in 2021. This represents an increase of four points from 2020 and is the fourth consecutive annual increase.
- Minnesota had the highest average FICO score, as of 2021, with Vermont, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Washington, and North Dakota close behind.
- The state with the single lowest average FICO score in 2021 was Mississippi, followed by Louisiana, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, and Georgia.
- As reported in 2018 by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, there exists a moderate correlation between household income and consumer credit scores.
- Average credit card debt is also a useful figure for approximating a consumer's individual financial circumstances within a given state, though it doesn't conclusively correlate with average credit scores.
Understanding Credit Scores
In the most basic terms, a credit score is a three-digit number that financial institutions can use to determine an individual's creditworthiness, which is typically updated monthly. Your credit score is based on a number of factors pulled from your three credit reports, such as overall debt and total number of late payments. The highest possible credit score is 850, while the lowest is 300.
Lenders see having a higher credit score as a sign that a borrower is more likely to repay their debts. Not only can it affect whether or not you'll qualify for insurance or a loan, but it can also affect how much you'll pay overall. Lenders charge those with lower credit scores higher interest rates and premiums to account for the increased risk to lenders.
In order to improve a bad credit score and/or keep your current one strong, be sure to pay down debt, make timely payments, and maintain a balance of zero on credit accounts.
Rather than each one having a specific value, credit scores fall within one of five possible ranges, which provides an easy reference for an individual's financial health. For instance, someone with a credit score of 800 or above, which is considered "Exceptional," will have a much easier time qualifying for a loan.
Conversely, anyone seeking a loan with a credit score of 669 and below, also known as a subprime borrower, may find themselves paying more than most, should they be approved at all.
|FICO Score Ranges|
Bear in mind that creditors may define their own ranges, thus making it possible for an individual to technically have more than one credit score. The ranges seen above, however, are the ones most frequently utilized due to the market domination of the FICO score model.
A FICO score is a specific credit score that was created by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) in 1989. Considering that FICO scores factor into more than 90% of the credit decisions made in the U.S., they are the ideal figure for assessing the financial health of a given area.
FICO scores consider payment history, current level of indebtedness, types of credit used, length of credit history, and new credit accounts when determining creditworthiness. This offers multiple methods for explaining why certain states have credit scores that are lower or higher than those of their neighbors.
According to our research, the FICO Score national average was 714 in 2021. This represents an increase of four points from 2020 and constitutes the fourth consecutive year scores have gone up.
Note that FICO isn't the only name in the game. Created in 2006 by the top three credit bureaus, VantageScore is a consumer credit rating product that serves as an alternative to the FICO score. Despite claiming to be more accurate than other models due to its advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques, FICO's widespread acceptance makes it a better candidate for the purposes of this article.
As of 2021, Minnesota had the highest average FICO score, with Vermont, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Washington, and North Dakota close behind it. Maine, Mississippi, and Nevada grew the most from 2020 at six points each, while 12 states all grew by five.
Notably, the majority of states with the greatest average credit score improvements were relatively close in 2020 to the current national average. Additionally, even the states with the highest average credit scores are still in the "Good" category with the exception of Minnesota, which is two points above the "Very Good" threshold.
The quality of your credit score has a direct impact on how much you might pay for any loans you take out, including the interest rate and any premiums.
The state with the single lowest average FICO score was Mississippi. The next lowest was Louisiana, followed by other neighboring states, including Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, and Georgia. Interestingly, both Oklahoma and the high-scoring state of South Dakota grew the least from 2020, at two points each. Behind these two were 11 states that grew by just three points, the majority of which started with scores over 720.
On a somewhat encouraging note, no state has an average credit score below the "Good" category, though this doesn't indicate that a state's typical residents are financially secure.
FICO and household income
As reported in 2018 by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, there was a moderate correlation between household income and consumer credit scores. This would suggest that rising income inequality could lead to widening disparities in credit access. It's no coincidence that credit scores tend to be lower in the Southern portion of the U.S. In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau found that 65% of the top 20 poorest states in the U.S. in the year prior were located in the South.
Mississippi is particularly noteworthy in this regard; as of 2019, the Magnolia State had both the lowest median income and the highest poverty rate in the U.S.
FICO and credit card debt
Average credit card debt is another figure that is useful for approximating a consumer's individual financial circumstances within a given state, though it doesn't conclusively correlate with average credit scores, despite providing insight into how much of one particular form of debt a typical individual is carrying.
Which State Has the Highest Average Credit Score?
According to Experian, at 742, Minnesota had the highest average FICO score in 2021. It was followed closely by Vermont, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Washington, and North Dakota.
What Is the Average Credit Score in the United States?
In 2021, the average FICO Score in the U.S. was 714, according to Experian. This was up four points from the year prior and the fourth consecutive year of growth.
What Is a Good Credit Score?
A "Good" FICO Score is considered anything between 739 and 670. The four other FICO Score ranges are:
- Exceptional: 850 to 800
- Very Good: 799 to 740
- Fair: 669 to 580
- Very Poor: 579 to 300
The Bottom Line
It's important to keep in mind that the economic conditions of the state in which you're living don't inherently determine what your credit score will be—it's your responsibility. Averages are calculated by adding together all of the values in a given dataset and then dividing by the amount of numbers there are. While it's possible that most of the values will be relatively close to each other, outliers can exist.
In order to end up on the higher end of the credit score scale, make sure to continue paying down your debts, avoid late payments, and try to maintain as small a balance as possible on any credit accounts you may have.
Experian. "My Credit Score."
Experian. "What Is a Good Credit Score?"
Fair Isaac Corporation. "About Us."
MyFICO. "The History of the FICO Score."
Fair Isaac Corporation. "FICO Scores Are Used in Over 90% of U.S. Lending Decisions."
Fair Isaac Corporation. "Frequently Asked Questions About FICO Scores," Pages 2 to 4.
Experian. "What Is the Average Credit Score in the U.S.?"
VantageScore. "About Vantage Score."
VantageScore. "VantageScore 4.0."
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. "Are Income and Credit Scores Highly Correlated?"
United States Census Bureau. "2019 Median Household Income in the United States."
United States Census Bureau. "2019 Poverty Rate in the United States."