How do your FICO® scores compare to the national average?

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In a Nutshell

As of April 2017, the average FICO® score in the U.S. was 700 — but what does that mean for you? Credit scores can help determine whether you’ll get access to credit, and, if you do, what your interest rates will be.

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You’ve probably heard of FICO® scores, but do you know what they are and how yours compare to the average American’s?

According to FICO, the average FICO® score in the U.S. as of April 2017 was 700, but that probably needs a little more explanation.

FICO® scores are based on FICO® credit scoring models and are widely used by banks, credit card companies and other lenders throughout the United States. FICO® scores may help a lender determine whether you’re approved for new credit. And if you are approved, the scores can influence the interest rates you’re offered.

Credit scores are an important topic. Read on to learn more about FICO® scores, the average FICO® score in the U.S., and what your scores could mean for your finances.

What is a FICO® score?

FICO® scores are three-digit scores based on credit scoring models created by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO is an acronym from the company’s name). Though FICO® scoring models aren’t the only credit scoring models used in the lending industry — VantageScore is another type of credit scoring model — it’s popular among lenders.

Your FICO® scores are derived from information on your credit reports. You should have three credit reports, one from each of the major consumer credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — which means you can also have at least three FICO® scores. Each of your FICO® scores may vary, since each credit bureau may have different information in your respective credit report.

If you’ve had any credit accounts in the past 10 years, you probably have credit reports. However, you’ll only see credit scores if your reports show recent activity – generally within the last 24 months. If you’ve never had a credit account or maybe you paid off all your accounts and let all activity on them lapse, you might not have credit scores. According to a 2015 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau study, approximately 45 million Americans were without a credit score.

What is the national FICO® score average?

The range for most FICO® scores is 300 to 850, with higher scores indicating better credit and lower scores indicating poorer credit. You can get your VantageScore® credit scores from TransUnion and Equifax for free on Credit Karma. Those scores may be similar to your FICO® scores. Once you get your FICO® scores, you may want to know how you stack up against your fellow Americans. Let’s dive in and take a look!

The average FICO® score as of April 2017 is 700. Did you look up your FICO® credit scores to see how you compare? Remember, credit scores help gauge how likely you are to pay back debt.

If you want to know more about how the average credit scores vary by region in America, you should check out Experian’s State of Credit Report from 2017. It uses VantageScore for its analysis, but it provides a useful snapshot of what credit health looks like across the country. For example, here are the average VantageScore® credit scores from 2017 in the top 10 most-populous U.S. states as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2017.

State Average VantageScore® credit score
California 680
Texas 656
Florida 668
New York 688
Pennsylvania 687
Illinois 683
Ohio 678
Georgia 654
North Carolina 666
Michigan 677

The five states with the highest average VantageScore® credit score in 2017

State Average VantageScore® credit score
Minnesota 709
Vermont 702
New Hampshire 701
South Dakota 700
Massachusetts 699

The five states with the lowest average VantageScore® credit score in 2017

State Average VantageScore® credit score
Mississippi 647
Louisiana 650
Alabama 654
Georgia 654
Nevada 655

Is the average credit score considered a good credit score?

We know that the average FICO® score is 700, but that doesn’t mean much without context. Credit bureaus generally break credit scores down into different credit-rating bands, with each band indicating how likely a consumer is to repay debt according to the scoring model. According to FICO, this is how the credit ranges are typically described.

FICO® score range Credit rating
579 and below Poor
580–669 Fair
670–739 Good
740–799 Very good
800+ Exceptional

That means that the average U.S. FICO® score is a good one!

Why your credit scores matter

Your credit scores are a big deal when it comes to your finances. Think of your credit scores as a grown-up grade point average. In high school, your GPA can help you get into the best universities. As an adult, your credit scores can help you access the best loans and interest rates.

So depending on your credit scores, you could be approved for competitive credit cards and loans, or you could get denied. Better credit scores could help you get a lower interest rate too, which can help you save big on a large loan like a mortgage or car loan.

If you were to buy a home for $200,000, with a 4% interest rate, 30-year fixed mortgage, you would pay $955 per month, or $343,739 over 30 years (assuming you make the minimum payments on-time every month). At 5% interest, you’d pay $1,074 per month and $386,512 in total. That is a $119 difference in the monthly payment and a total of $42,773 more over the life of the loan. That’s huge!

How to get your credit scores for free

If you don’t know your credit scores, don’t worry. You can get your VantageScore 3.0 credit scores from Equifax and TransUnion for free, along with your credit reports from these two bureaus, on Credit Karma.

However, if you’d like to see your FICO® scores, you can purchase access to them on the MyFICO website. Additionally, some issuers offer members access to their FICO® scores for free, so check in with your bank or credit card issuer to see if it’s offered.

If you’ve checked your scores and think there’s room for improvement, there are ways to build your credit. A good starting point is learning the factors that can affect your credit scores.


Bottom line

Your credit scores are very important to your finances. Good credit scores can save you tens of thousands of dollars on a mortgage, increase your likelihood of getting approved for competitive credit cards and more. If you don’t know your credit scores, you can get them for free today.