Your credit score affects almost every aspect of your life. It's used when you apply for a mortgage, a car loan, or a credit card. Even landlords and cellphone companies take your credit into consideration when you're getting approved. How does your credit score stack up against the people in your state? What about the country?
The average credit score across the entire United States was 714 in 2021, according to Experian's State of Credit Study. The data is based on the FICO scores, which generates credit scores on a range from 300 to 850.
While higher credit scores are obviously better, breaking down the credit score into brackets brings more clarity to specific credit score numbers.
FICO Score Rating Categories
- 800-850: Exceptional
- 740-799: Very Good
- 670-739: Good
- 580-669: Fair
- <580: Very poor
Minnesota has the highest average credit score at 742. Mississippi has the lowest average credit score at 681.
The rest of the top 10 states with the highest average credit score are: Vermont (736), Wisconsin (735), New Hampshire (734), Washington (734), North Dakota (733), South Dakota (733), Massachusetts (732), Nebraska (731), and Oregon (731).
These credit scores are all considered prime or near prime on the FICO scale. Consumers with prime credit scores often have an easier time getting approved for credit and will receive more favorable terms when they're approved.
The other nine states with the lowest average credit scores are Louisiana (689), Alabama (691), Oklahoma (692), Texas (692), Georgia (693), Arkansas (694), South Carolina (693), New Mexico (699) and West Virginia (699).
Only information directly related to your borrowing and payment habits is included in your credit score. For example, payment history is 35% of your FICO score.
|State||Average FICO Score, 2021|
|District of Columbia||717|
Experian also charted information based on generation, which is helpful to show how those from different generations are compiling debt. The Silent Generation encompasses those born between 1925 and 1945, while Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, Generation X from 1965 to 1979, Generation Y from 1980 to 1994, and Generation Z from 1995 to 2012.
Another way to look at it is that generations X and Y include those aged 24 to 53, or those in their prime working years. The oldest members of Generation Z are just joining the workforce, while the youngest Baby Boomers are nearing retirement, and the Silent Generation is retired for the most part.
Tips for Improving Your Credit Score
You can work toward improving your credit score no matter where you live. Since payment history is the biggest factor influencing your credit score, paying your bills on time is the best thing you can do to improve your credit score. Catch up on past due accounts and take care of debt collections.
Minimize the amount of credit you're using. Having high credit card balances also will bring down your credit score. While it's easier on the budget to pay just the minimum on your credit cards each month, that's not the best thing for your credit. Work on paying down your credit card balances to below 30% of the credit limit. The lower the better. Maintaining extremely low credit card balances will help boost your credit score. This shows lenders that you can handle credit responsibly and not allow it to get out of control.
Apply for new credit only as needed. While each new credit card will ding your credit a little, the real harm in opening several credit cards is the risk of running up large balances and missing payments. Minimize the number of credit cards you apply for.
Monitor your credit score using a free credit scoring service like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, or WalletHub. You can stay up to date on changes to your credit score and learn the factors influencing your credit score. You also should review your full credit report each year at AnnualCreditReport.com. Check your credit report to be sure all the information is accurate and dispute any errors with the credit bureaus. An accurate credit report is also key to improving your credit score.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why are the average credit scores in Texas and some other Southern states lower?
The lower credit scores in some Southern states do not mean that people in those states are not creditworthy. According to one study, states in the South have lower average credit scores for several complicated reasons including lower-ranked educational systems, more dependence on government aid, and higher bankruptcy filing rates.
Does anybody have a perfect FICO score of 850?
While it's hard to achieve a perfect credit score, it's not possible. Approximately 1.2% of Americans have an 850 credit score.
Are there other credit scores besides FICO?
Yes, there's the VantageScore, which ranges from 300 to 850. While there are some similarities, there are also some notable differences between FICO and VantageScore.
Experian. "What Is the Average Credit Score in the U.S.?"
FICO. "What Is a Credit Score?"
myFICO. "What's in my FICO Scores?"
CPA Practical Advisor. "Credit Scores are Higher in Northern States than Southern."