February 2, 2017

23 Startling Credit Score Statistics and Facts

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Many Americans don't even know their credit score or what it's for. How do you stack up against the average score of 699? Read on for more remarkable facts.

Aside from your Social Security number, your credit score is one of the most important numbers you need to know. Those three little digits determine whether you're able to qualify for loans and influence the kind of interest rates you'll pay.

Find out how much you truly know about credit scores with these surprising statistics. And everyone - younger or older - may pick up some useful knowledge.

FICO SCORES

1. What is the national average FICO score?
Issued by Fair Isaac Co., FICO scores are the gold standard of credit scores, and are most often used to gauge your creditworthiness. As of April 2016, the average FICO score nationwide was 699. We've apparently all been handling our debt better since 2009, when the average score was 686.

2. How many Americans have a FICO score below 500?
FICO scores range from 300 to 850. Generally, a score below 550 is considered poor. According to FICO's data, 11.7% of the population has a score of 549 or less. This is a decrease from 16% in 2009.

3. What percentage of Americans have a FCIO score over 800?
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a score above 800 is considered excellent (super prime). As of April 2016, approximately 20.4% of Americans have a score ranging from 800 to 850.

4. How common is a perfect 850 FICO score?
Achieving an 850 credit score requires a lot of hard work, and it's elusive. According to FICO, less than 1% of the population can boast about their perfect score.

VANTAGESCORE BASICS

5. What is the national average VantageScore?
VantageScore is an alternative score developed by the three major credit bureaus, with a range from 300 to 850. For 2016, the average VantageScore was pegged at 673, up four points from the previous year.

6. What's the average VantageScore for Millennials?
Millennials lag behind the older generations when it comes to their credit scores. The average 22- to 35-year-old has a VantageScore of 634.

7. How does the average score compare for Generation X?
Adults aged 35 to 51 do a little better with their scores but not by much. As of 2016, the average Gen Xer had a VantageScore of 655.

8. What kind of scores do Baby Boomers have?
Baby Boomers in the 52 to 70 age range see a big uptick in their scores, with an average VantageScore of 700.

9. What about the Silent Generation?
Seniors (aged 70+) tend to fare the best when it comes to VantageScores. The average score for Traditionalists is 730.

10. Which state has the highest VantageScore?
For 2016, Minnesota is heads and shoulders above everyone else, with an average VantageScore of 707. The next highest state is Vermont, with a score of 700.

11. What state has the lowest VantageScore?
Residents of Mississippi need to step it up. The average score there comes in at 645. The next lowest state is Louisiana, with an average score of 648.

CREDIT AWARENESS

12. What percentage of Americans have checked their credit in the last year?
When it comes to reviewing their credit report regularly, the majority of Americans are getting it right. According to a 2016 report from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), 56% of consumers said they checked their reports in the last 12 months.

13. What is the biggest reason for not checking their credit score?
While the results of the NFCC survey are encouraging, there's still a sizable part of the population that seems to be in the dark. The NFCC study found that 36% of the people think there's no reason to check their credit score. 8% didn't know how to, and 8% thought it's too expensive.

14. How often are Americans checking their credit scores?
According to a 2016 Bankrate survey, about 29% check a couple of times a year and 21% check once a year.

15. What percentage of Americans don't have a credit score at all?
An estimated 19% of the population, or roughly 45 million adults, are considered to be "credit invisibles," according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That means they don't have any history of using credit or there's limited data on how they've used it, so they do not have a score on file.

16. What percentage of young adults lack a credit score?
Not surprisingly, folks who are just entering adulthood don't have much in their background to show for their credit reputation. That's why 80% of 18- and 19-year-olds do not have a score. That percentage shrinks as people get older. A little under 40% of young adults aged 20 to 24 have no credit score.

CREDIT SCORE KNOWLEDGE

17. What percentage of Americans think their score is on their credit report?
Despite the amount of information available about credit scores, most people are still confused. According to a 2014 survey from the NFCC, 54% of adults mistakenly believe that credit scores are listed on their credit report. (In fact, the report is an account of your financial history, and does not include that important, three-digit number.)

18. What percentage of Americans think credit scores and reports are the same?
Even more troubling is the fact that so many adults use the terms interchangeably. Another 2015 survey from the American Bankers Association revealed that 44% of consumers believe that credit scores and credit reports are one and the same.

19. What percentage of Americans don't even know what a credit score means?
According to a joint survey from the Consumer Federation of America and VantageScore, only 41% of Americans understand that a credit score measures your risk of not paying a loan. The others think it means amount of debt you carry (22%), your available financial resources (20%), and your knowledge and attitude towards credit (12%).

20. What percentage of Americans think age is a factor in calculating scores?
Many Americans aren't exactly clear on how their score is calculated. The same survey from CFA and VantageScore found that 38% of women believe their age determines their score, while 48% of men have the same view.

21. What percentage of Americans believe marital status is a factor?
If you're thinking that getting married can help your credit score, think again. Surprisingly, 34% of women and 46% of men think that marital status influences your score. But they are mistaken. The score is determined by how you handle your loans and debt, not statuses (to find out the factors involved, see What Is a Good Credit Score?).

CREDIT SCORE FUN FACTS

22. Can your credit score impact your dating success?
A low credit score could be trouble for your love life (and vice versa!). According to a fun Bankrate survey, 38% say that knowing someone's credit could would affect their interest in dating them. This is more important to women, with 43% saying so, compared to 32% of men saying the same.

23. Can your credit score affect employment?
A Demos survey found that 47% of employers check a potential hire's credit score. Of the applicants with less-than-stellar credit scores, 1 in 7 people were told that they were not hired because of their score.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The good news about all these statistics on credit scores? In general, Americans are increasing their credit scores, but many of us could improve how well we track it.

Break down these stats by age, and you'll see that Millennials have some improving to do. The truth is, we can all improve. And that's why it's worth checking your credit score at least once a year. (Many credit cards on the market today even show your score on every statement).

Stay informed, so you can be sure to get access to credit at the lowest rates possible when you need it.

Sources and Additional References:

  • FICO
  • Experian
  • National Foundation for Credit Counseling
  • Bankrate
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • American Bankers Association
  • Consumer Federation of America
  • Demos

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