National Average Credit Score

The credit industry continues to evolve, and the latest development is the migration from the traditional FICO score to what's called VantageScore.  The scale of this score varies from FICO, so the numerical value of what's considered a good score has changed too.

In this article, we're going to review some of the recent changes to consumer credit scores.  That discussion will start with the numerical scale now used by the three major credit rating agencies as well as the new grading scale.  Then we'll talk about the factors that influence scores, which provides insights into improving them too.  Finally, we'll finish up with some national and regional statistics for both averages as well as distributions of scores.

Nationwide Credit Score Scales and Calculations

VantageScore was developed by all three credit rating agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.  By agreeing to use the same numerical scale and scoring mechanism, consumers should see more consistency and accuracy in their scores.  The new VantageScore also allows for better scoring of "thin file" consumers, which are individuals with a limited credit history.

Numerical Scores and Grading Scale

Credit scores will now range from 501 to 990 under the VantageScore system.  This is considerably higher than FICO scores, which ranged from 300 to 850.  Consumers with higher scores are thought to have a lower risk of default, and should be offered more attractive interest rates on loans.

To help differentiate between good and bad scores, VantageScores were also put on an academic scale, where:

  • Scores between 900 and 990 are considered an "A"
  • Scores between 800 and 899 are considered a "B"
  • Scores between 700 and 799 are considered a "C"
  • Scores between 600 and 699 are considered a "D", and
  • Scores below 599 are considered an "F"

Note:  While the original VantageScore is still used by some companies, VantageScore 3.0 is on a scale that ranges from 300 to 850.

Score Distributions and National Average

Currently, the national average credit score is 736 (as of October 2014).  That value is based on research conducted by Experian and is calculated using the VantageScore system.  Creditors such as utilities, as well as lenders, may continue to use FICO scores calculated by Fair Isaac when evaluating a consumer's risk of default.  Unfortunately, consumers rarely have access to these scores.  All three agencies are now providing VantageScores to consumers when offering free credit scores or monitoring services.

The table below shows the distribution of credit scores by numerical value as well as grade.  For example, the national average of 736 falls into the range of 700 to 799 (Note:  The VantageScore 3.0 average is 681).  Research indicates 21% of the population falls into that range of scores, and 60% of the population would have a score of 700 or greater.

Credit Score Distribution
Score Grade Population Cumulative
900 - 990 A 14% 14%
800 - 899 B 25% 39%
700 - 799 C 21% 60%
600 - 699 D 20% 80%
550 - 599 F 10% 90%
501 - 549 F 9% 99%

Factors Affecting Credit Scores

There are a total of five factors that go into the calculation of a credit score, but three factors account for 81% of the total:

  • Recent Credit (30%):  an indicator of recent checks into the consumer's credit which oftentimes means the consumer is applying for additional credit.
  • Payment History (28%):  determined by repayment patterns to creditors or lenders.  This component of the score is a reflection of how frequently bills or loans are paid on time.
  • Utilization (23%):  how much debt is currently outstanding relative to what creditors believe the consumer can financially handle.

Additional information on this topic can be found in our in-depth article:  About Credit Scores.

National Credit Score Facts

The following facts are based on information compiled from a large database of credit scores throughout the United States.  As of October 2014, the average FICO score in the United States is around 640, while the median score is closer to 720.  As a reminder, the median score is the midpoint in the data, meaning half of the scores are above this value and half are below.  Since the average score is considerably lower than the median, it's reasonable to conclude there are a large number of very low scores (well below 640) that pull the average away from the median.  The following tables provide average scores by state:

Credit Scores at or above the National Average

Hawaii 661 South Dakota 647
Minnesota 655 North Dakota 647
Massachusetts 655 Utah 646
New York 655 Nebraska 645
Montana 655 Virginia 644
New Jersey 654 New Hampshire 644
Washington 653 Arizona 642
Connecticut 653 Iowa 642
California 652 Maine 641
Alaska 649 Pennsylvania 641
Rhode Island 649 Illinois 641
Vermont 648 Wisconsin 640
Colorado 648 Idaho 640
Oregon 647 Kansas 640

Credit Scores below the National Average

Maryland 639 Indiana 632
Florida 639 Georgia 631
Nevada 638 Oklahoma 630
Wyoming 638 Tennessee 630
Michigan 637 Texas 629
Delaware 636 Kentucky 629
Ohio 635 Louisiana 625
New Mexico 633 Alabama 624
North Carolina 633 Arkansas 624
Missouri 633 South Carolina 623
    Mississippi 615

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