When it comes to credit scores, Americans are seeing some positive trends in 2018. For the first time in history, the average national credit score for Americans hit 700, according to FICO, which is one of the most common credit scores used by lenders. The range of FICO scores goes from 300 to 850.
How high your credit score is plays a big role in being able to get credit to buy a home or car, or to get a credit card. Your credit score determines how high your rates are for all of these items, or whether you will even be able to get a loan at all.
The fact that the average credit score for consumers in the United States has reached 700 is great news after the last financial crisis. At that time, the average credit score dropped to 686. This was during the housing meltdown and the millions of foreclosures that occurred. But credit scores have been slowly rising since then.
700 is a good credit score that will allow most consumers to qualify for credit at reasonable interest rates. On the down side, credit card balances and delinquencies have been rising too. If that continues, it could eventually lead to credit problems, especially if the job market turns south.
One of the biggest different in a credit score is the age of the person. The average FICO score usually rises with age. The only hitch in that is in the 30 to 39 age bracket. This group has the biggest population with people with credit scores under 620. This is probably because a lot of people face challenging financial situations in their 30’s as they buy a home, car and have children. Also, statistics show that this age group usually has the highest amount of credit card debt.
The other age group with lower credit scores on average are for those under 30. One of the major factors could be that this group has lower access to credit. After then 2009 CARD Act, it became harder for those from 18 to 21 to get credit card accounts. Many younger adults do not build their credit profile until they are older today.
The higher your income, the higher your credit score usually is. Debt to income ratio is not a direct factor in determining credit score, it does have an indirect influence. One of the factors that FICO looks at is your level of credit utilization. This is amount of total credit you have available on a monthly basis. To boost your credit score, it is wise to keep your utilization under 30%. The lower your income, the more you may be relying on credit to pay for your expenses.
Another way that your income can affect credit utilization and your score is what your credit limit is. Credit issuers will review your income when they decide on how much credit you should get. The lower your income, the lower your lines of credit will be. Thus, if you have a lower credit limit, it can be easier for the lower income person to use a bigger portion of what is available. This will increase the level of credit being used.
Other Observations About Credit Scores
The lower credit scores in the United States are often found in MS, AR, LA and AL. Credit utilization in these states is generally low; recent studies suggest people in these areas have the lowest number of people with a credit card line or home equity line of credit. Since 2005, most parts of the US had a decline in the number of credit accounts because of the severe recession. The rest of the country has largely recovered, but these states in the south are still showing lower numbers.
But credit health in other states has shown to be stronger than average. In MN and ND, average credit scores have usually stayed above 700 in recent times.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has done studies that show the level of credit available in the US, and NM, TX, OK, AR, LA, MS, TN, GA, AL, SC, NV and FL were the only areas where more than 40% of the people were non-prime borrowers. This group would be most likely to buy a home with a non-QM or subprime loan.
Home Buyer Credit Scores
The average credit score for people buying homes is 728, higher than the national average. Of the 85,000 mortgage applicants looked at by the Federal Reserve, only 7% had scores below 620. People that have credit scores below 580, should consider FHA.
If you are planning to buy a home soon, you should work on getting your credit score up as much as you can. Pay off debt, reduce expenses, and pay all of your bills on time. If you do so, you will have a higher credit score and pay less on your monthly mortgage payment.