Average Credit Score in America: It’s Higher Than You Think!

Table of Contents
  1. Average Credit Score in America
  2. Average Credit Score by Age
  3. Average Credit Scores by State
  4. Credit Score Distributions
  5. Finding Your Credit Score

When you run your own business, there's a surprising level of trust involved.

You trust that the customers who enter your store don't slip a few items into their pocket and walk out. You trust that the person paying you with a credit card didn't steal it from someone. You trust that the agreements you made with vendors and customers will be honored. From time to time, that trust is broken and people do steal from you… but the idea is that you earn enough profit to overcome those breaks.

That's where the credit score comes into play. Businesses are constantly trying to identify a good customer from a bad one. If you have a credit score, which is based on their credit history, you can make a better informed decision than if you were to look at the person visually. Looks can be deceiving and prejudices can be very subtle (or not!).

That's why credit scores are so important.

But what makes a good credit score? For some, it's to be in that top tier so you get the best rates. For others, it's just beating the average. It really depends on where you are.

So, what is the average? Let's find out!

When we say “credit score” in this article, we are referring to the VantageScore credit score. It was created in 2006 by the three credit bureaus as an alternative to the FICO credit score, created by Fair Isaac Corporation. For the purposes of understanding the state of credit scores in America, we felt the two were synonymous and there was more data available for VantageScore. Lenders rely on both for making lending and credit decisions.

The data was provided by Experian's annual State of Credit survey, the latest of which was conducted for the 2017 year and released in early 2018.

Average Credit Score in America

The average credit score was 675 in 2017.

How does this compare to the past? Here are the last few years:

Year VantageScore
2017 675
2016 673
2015 669
2014 666
2013 681

The VantageScore rating tiers are:

  • 781 – 850: Super Prime
  • 661 – 780: Prime
  • 601 – 660: Near Prime
  • 500 – 600: Subprime
  • 300 – 499: Deep Subprime

That means the average credit score in America is Prime – that's excellent!

What's interesting is some of the other data they released along with the average VantageScore.

  • Average number of credit cards – 3.1
  • Average balance on credit cards – $6,354
  • Average number of retail cards – 2.5
  • Average balance on retail cards – $1,841
  • Average mortgage debt – $201,811
  • Average non-mortgage debt – $24,706

Like anything else, averages can be deceiving especially when you're looking at the entire nation. With such huge disparities in cost of living, Manhattan vs. rural anywhere USA, the average debt might not even be a useful measure at all!

If you're curious what the average FICO credit score is, the average as published in April 2017 was 700. It was a milestone because it was the first time the score hit that peak.

FICO has been tracking scores for quite some time and here are some historical figures:

Date Average FICO Score
October 2005 688
October 2006 690
October 2007 689
October 2008 689
October 2009 686
October 2010 687
October 2011 689
October 2012 689
October 2013 690
October 2014 694
October 2015 696
October 2016 699
April 2017 700

Average Credit Score by Age

Curious to know which generational cohort had the highest credit scores and which had the lowest?

Generation Average VantageScore
Silent Generation (before 1946) 729
Baby Boomers (1947 – 1966) 703
Gen X (1967-1981) 658
Gen Y (1982-1995) 638
Gen Z (after 1996) 634

The steady rise in credit scores as you age is not unexpected. Age of accounts is one of the biggest factors in your score so the older you are the older your accounts are likely to be. On time payments and good behavior are also strong indicators.

If you were born in 1998 and just celebrated your 20th birthday, it's impossible for you to have an older account and for you to accumulate much time at all. Your score won't be as high as someone who has 20 years of on-time payments (and don't worry, lenders know this).

Average Credit Scores by State

Just as we have different costs of living across the nation, we have different expectations and credit scores across the nation.

A state can be very large, with very different economic and social areas, but it's very hard to parse data below the state level. That said, it's still illustrative to review where the states sit and where you, as a resident, stack up.

State Average VantageScore
Alaska 668
Alabama 654
Arkansas 657
Arizona 669
California 680
Colorado 688
Connecticut 690
District of Columbia 670
Delaware 672
Florida 668
Georgia 654
Hawaii 693
Iowa 695
Idaho 681
Illinois 683
Indiana 667
Kansas 680
Kentucky 663
Louisiana 650
Massachusetts 699
Maryland 672
Maine 689
Michigan 677
Minnesota 709
Missouri 675
Mississippi 647
Montana 689
North Carolina 666
North Dakota 697
Nebraska 695
New Hampshire 701
New Jersey 686
New Mexico 659
Nevada 655
New York 688
Ohio 678
Oklahoma 656
Oregon 688
Pennsylvania 687
Rhode Island 687
South Carolina 657
South Dakota 700
Tennessee 662
Texas 656
Utah 683
Virginia 680
Vermont 702
Washington 693
Wisconsin 696
West Virginia 658
Wyoming 678

Minnesota had the highest credit score with an average of 709 while Mississippi had the lowest with an average of 647. It's not a huge range but that's no unexpceted.

Credit Score Distributions

Here's something that was fascinating – if you had to guess where the largest concentration of people were in a credit score distribution, would you guess it's near the top? The two biggest groups are those in 750-799 and 800-850:

29.7% of the population has a credit score above 750!

Finding Your Credit Score

There are a lot of free ways to check your credit score and my favorite way is to use CreditWise from Capital One. It's available to everyone and has the most features. It isn't a FICO score (VantageScore) but for purposes of monitoring your credit, it's good enough.

If you want to improve your credit score, our post explains step by step what you can do to find some low hanging fruit (identify and contest any errors or inaccuracies). You don't need to pay a service (nor should you need to as some can employ some shady tactics).

How do you stack up?

(we will update this in the future if there's more information about the UltraFICO score that's coming soon)

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Jim Wang

About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of three who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and a farm in Illinois via AcreTrader.

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  1. Dividend Portfolio says

    Great post. I actually make it a point to check my credit score every week. It’s a bit overkill but I want to ensure that if there is anything wrong with my credit score, that I fix it right away.

    I use Credit Karma to check my scores but that only gives me TransUnion and Equifax. At the time of this writing, my score with TransUnion is 811 and with Equifax is 816. These both give me my vantage score. I use Chase to get my FICO score with Experian and that is sitting at 817. So, I definitely watch my scores like a hawk.

    I remember recently I had a situation with my home warranty company where they wouldn’t renew my policy. What’s more is that they didn’t tell me the reason why. It might have just been the person I was talking to but I went and got a whole other policy and paid six years up front. Later, I got a bill in the mail from the old company stating that I owed them one month’s payment. I was so freaked out because had I realized that I owed them money, I would have taken care of it at the spot.

    I called the company right away, paid the bill, and then I was offered the chance to renew. I told them it was too late. But, had I not paid attention, I could have been taken to collections and the late balance could have been reported on my credit report. I would have been pissed!

    Unfortunately, it wasn’t always like that. There was a period of time when I was struggling with debt. I had collection agencies contacting me all the time. It got so annoying that I didn’t want to answer the phone or even think about my debt. I tried debt consolidation companies etc, but that didn’t work for me. Eventually, I just slowly worked my way out of it – unlike my mom who had to go through bankruptcy.

    I chose to tell my story in hopes of inspiring someone out there to know that if you’re struggling with a low credit score, it can get better. It doesn’t always have to be that way. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, having a good credit score matters. It’s not everything, but it sure does help when the time comes.

    Once again, Great post Jim.

  2. DNN says

    Employers nowadays run credit checks as a vehicle for making an informed pre-employment hiring decision. Though I know that could be used as a reason to filter good people out who have MBA’s and Ph.D’s who have less than perfect credit, having good credit can also be a side hustle blogging topic that has potential to yield any aspiring blogger much affiliate revenue in being a future “side hustle millionaire.” Good thing my credit is above average though employers can’t afford me. L 😛 L

    • Jim Wang says

      It’s hard to say why the score has increased and whether the increase isn’t just noise (how much precision is built into the score? given the tiers are so wide, I’d argue probably not much).

      That said, employment is up and I’d venture to guess, even though it’s not a factor, an employed person is less risky than an unemployed person.

  3. GYM says

    I used to think that checking your credit score gave you a big ‘ding’ on your credit score. I recently checked it and it’s better than I expected 800 something even though I applied for a credit card recently.

    • Jim Wang says

      You probably know this now but for those reading and don’t, there are soft and hard inquiries. Hard inquiries are those made by lenders as part of their credit decision process and those lower your score. The logic is that if you are looking for credit, you’re riskier than someone not looking for credit.

      Soft inquiries are those made by companies for non-lending reasons, like identity confirmation. Another soft inquiries example is when you ask for your own credit report (which is essentially what you’re doing when you look up your score). Someone looking at their own credit score is not riskier. 🙂

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