Average credit score by state
|FICO score ranges|
Keep in mind that creditors can set their own ranges, thus allowing an individual to technically have more than one credit score. The ranges seen above, however, are the most frequently used due to the market dominance of FICO score model.
A FICO score is a specific credit score that was created by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) in 1989. Considering that FICO scores are factored into over 90% of credit decisions made in the United States, they are the ideal number to assess the financial health of a given area.
FICO scores take into account payment history, current debt level, types of credit used, length of credit history, and new credit accounts to determine creditworthiness. This offers several methods as to why some states have lower or higher credit scores than their neighbors.
According to our research, the national average FICO score was 710 in 2020. This represents an increase of seven points (or 1%) from 2019, which is the biggest annual improvement in about a decade.
Note that FICO is not the only name of the game. Created in 2006 by the the three major credit bureaus, VantageScore is a consumer credit rating product that serves as an alternative to the FICO score.Although it claims to be more accurate than other models, due to the use of advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques, the widespread acceptance of FICO makes it a better candidate for the purposes of this article.
State by State breakdown
In 2020, Minnesota had the highest average FICO score, followed closely by Wisconsin, Vermont, South Dakota, North Dakota and Washington. The District of Columbia and Arizona saw the strongest growth from 2019 with 10 points each, while Delaware, North Carolina and Idaho all increased by nine.
Notably, the majority of states with the greatest improvements in average credit score were relatively close in 2019 to the current national average. In addition, even the states with the highest average credit score are still in the “Good” category, with Minnesota only one point away from “Very Good”.
The quality of your credit score has a direct impact on the amount you could pay for any loans you take out, including the interest rate and any premiums.
The state with the lowest average FICO score was Mississippi, which was the only one to fall below 680. The next lowest was Louisiana, followed by other neighboring states including Alabama, Texas, Georgia and South Carolina. Interestingly, high-scoring states like North Dakota and South Dakota increased the least from 2019, to just three and four points, respectively.
Behind those two countries were Hawaii, Nebraska and Vermont, which also started with scores above 720. On a somewhat encouraging note, no state has an average credit score lower than the “Good” category. although this does not indicate that typical residents of a state are financially secure.
FICO and household income
As reported in 2018 by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, there is a moderate correlation between household income and consumer credit scores. This would suggest that increasing income inequalities could lead to widening disparities in access to credit. It is no coincidence that credit scores tend to be lower in the southern part of the United States. A 2018 study by the Southern Legislative Conference found that 65% of the 20 poorest states in the United States the previous year were located in the south.
Mississippi is particularly remarkable in this regard; in 2019, Magnolia state had both the lowest median income and the highest poverty rate in the United States
FICO and credit card debt
Average credit card debt is another useful figure for estimating the individual financial situation of a consumer in a given state, although it does not correlate conclusively with average credit scores, although it does give an overview of the amount of a form of debt incurred by a typical individual.
Admittedly, the data for 2020 is also somewhat skewed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, total US credit card debt outstanding ($ 756 billion) is at its lowest level since 2017, largely due to a reduction in consumer spending amid closures and business closures. Interestingly, however, states that generally had higher FICO scores saw a smaller decrease in credit card debt as of 2019 – with North Dakota falling the least to 8% – while the reverse is also true (although to a lesser extent, as the District of Columbia recorded the largest decrease (20%).
The bottom line
It is important to keep in mind that the economic conditions of the state you live in do not in and of themselves determine what your credit rating will be – it is your responsibility. Averages are calculated by adding all the values in a given data set, then dividing by the number of numbers. Although it is possible that most values are relatively close to each other, outliers may exist.
In order to end up at the top of that scale, make sure you keep paying off your debts, avoid late payments, and try to keep the balance as small as possible on any credit accounts you may have.