Nobody out there is looking to be average, but it’s always nice to know what the average is when comparing yourself to the competition.
After all, how else are you going to know if you have a good credit score, a bad credit score, or just an average one?
When it comes to credit scores, the averages are often really “median scores,” meaning the number that separates the bottom half and top half of a certain sample group.
Put simply, half of consumers have a credit score below the median credit score, and half have a score above the median credit score.
Median FICO Score Roughly 710
That brings us to the almighty FICO score, which is the clear market leader, used by 90 percent of banks and lenders.
[FICO scores vs. credit scores]
For the record, they use a “median credit score,” not an “average credit score.”
The national median FICO score, last calculated in early 2012, was 711. It has fallen just two points from October 2008, when it averaged 713.
And a lot has “gone down” since 2008, so it’s probably safe to say that even as time goes on, the average FICO score won’t change all that much from its current level.
FICO also provides some cool data regarding other averages for American consumers:
Average credit obligations: 13
Average available credit: $19,000 on all credit cards combined
Average length of credit history: 14 years
Average credit inquiries: 1 within past year
Average credit utilization: 40% of credit card holders carry balance less than $1,000
These averages should give you a good indication as to where you should stand credit score-wise, even if you don’t actually know your credit score.
If you’re looking worse than many of these averages, you should have a lower-than-average credit score. If you’re numbers are mainly better, you should have a higher-than-average credit score.
And if they’re in line with these averages, you probably have an average FICO score. Pretty simple, right?
Of course, if you have any derogatory accounts, your credit score can drop in a hurry, even if everything else looks awesome up above.
So it can really vary quite a bit. But if you heed the basics, that is, paying all bills on time, applying for new credit only when necessary, and keeping outstanding balances low, you’ll wind up with a good FICO score. It’s not rocket science.
Average VantageScore Close to 750
The other notable credit score provider out there is VantageScore, which was created by the three major credit reporting agencies to rival the mighty FICO score.
They actually use the phrase “average credit score,” and put the magic number at 736. It hasn’t changed all that much in the past few years either.
It has only dropped 20 points since 2007, just before the economy tanked, so it’s clear this is a relatively steady number as well that won’t jump around too much.
The highest average VantageScore was last seen in Wausau, Wisconsin, where consumers averaged 789 scores. The lowest average VantageScore in the nation was last reported in Harlingen, TX, where the average score was just 686.
Keep in mind that FICO score and VantageScore use a different credit score scale, so it’s not all the same.
Average credit scores in summary: