What is the Average Credit Score?

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Have you ever been curious what the average credit score is?

We know that the FICO credit score range goes from 300 to 850 with a good credit score being up above 750, but what is the average credit score? Fair Isaac shares a chart that indicates the average FICO credit score is around 700, but we don’t know when chart the was updated (see the chart here).

Average Credit Score

With the economy in a constant state of flux, I thought it would be better to get real data. I asked Kenneth Lin, CEO of Credit Karma, if they would be able to provide some data on the scores they were seeing. Credit Karma, for free, gives you an actual TransUnion credit score, as if you ordered it from TransUnion itself. It uses TransUnion credit history data and TransUnion’s proprietary equation. It’s not technically a FICO score but it’s exactly what you would get from TransUnion and for all intents and purposes, good enough for our purposes (plus it’s free). (Big thank you Kenneth and the Credit Karma team for provided this valuable data!)

What did their data show?

The national average credit score is 664.25 points. (based on April 2009 data, for over 75,000 users) This is slightly lower than the generally accepted “average” provided by Fair Isaac, which is around 700 points.

Your credit score can vary from credit bureau to credit bureau because of their equations and the data they have for you. Some experts believe that range can vary as much as fifty points, which leaves a pretty sizable range of a hundred points. Ignoring that, seeing that the average TransUnion score was 664 lends credence to the idea that the average is closer to the higher end of the range, than the lower end. The midpoint between 300 and 850 is 575, but the average is much higher than that at 664.

Other Fun Statistics

Since I had this wonderful data, I thought I’d offer up some other fun statistics for your enjoyment (we excluded states with fewer than 300 records).

  • State with the highest average score: Massachusetts had an average score of 686, with California and Oregon coming in second with 681.
  • State with the lowest average score: Mississippi had an average score of 623.
  • My home state of Maryland’s average score: 664
  • There were two people in the military state, AA (Armed Forces Americas), with an average score of 785! Kudos!
  • 18 people in Guam had an average score of 641.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do with this information other than impress your friends at cocktail parties. The problem with looking at average scores is that it’s not actionable information. Knowing the average score in your state or country is useful from a personal information standpoint but there’s nothing you can do with it because geographic location is irrelevant when calculating credit scores. It’s not like you could move to Lake Wobegone, where I’m sure the credit scores are above average, and get a credit score boost! (incidentally, Minnesota’s average credit score is 678, which is higher than the national average)

I asked Bargaineering readers a few weeks ago what their credit scores were and the results were (on 361 votes):

  • 800+: 18%
  • 750-799: 45%
  • 700-749: 23%
  • 650-699: 8%
  • 600-649: 4%
  • 550-599: 1%
  • 500-549: 1%
  • < 500: 0%
{ 41 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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41 Responses to “What is the Average Credit Score?”

  1. “Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do with this information other than impress your friends at cocktail parties.”–Very well put!

    Jim, a big reason there can be variations of 50 points or more between scores is that creditors may not report to all three credit bureaus. If you have a recent late payment reported on Equifax and TransUnion, your score with each may hover around 700, but if the creditor didn’t report it to Experian, your score with them might be 750.

    Sometimes it’s a timing difference, sometimes it’s that not all creditors report to all three bureaus, so you can get some pretty wild variations.

  2. Terry says:

    Hmm. Well, I paid for Transunion’s score just under 2 weeks ago and there is a 90 point difference between Transunion and Credit Karma. But CK was in my favor, so I like it more 😉 Thanks for this –

  3. Anthony says:

    I’d be interesting in seeing what you would have to do to get a credit score of less than 500.

    My wife is in a horrible credit situation: several 120+/150+ delinquencies, low/mid number of credit accounts, high revolving balances, high debt-income ratio, etc., etc. (I love my wife, BTW!) But she still squeezes out a 500 credit score. I’m sure that there are people worse off than her, but it can’t be much worse…

    Like I said, I’d be interested in seeing what it takes (or doesn’t take) to get a score less than 500.

    • nicole says:

      It takes a bankruptcy. I speak from personal experience.

      • Anonymous says:

        i filed bankruptcy still have 590 i filed on house 4 cars and 11 credit cards so not sure how anyone gets below 500 unless right when get any credit and you never make single payment

      • Shaun says:

        It does not take bankruptcy. Before I got married my score was a 463, its actualluy very easy for it to get out of hand. finnaly figured life out and I am back up to a 600 4 years later.

  4. @Anthony – I guess bankruptcy, foreclosure, reposition, etc. would probably leave you with a credit score less than 500. I dont know for sure but its a guess…

  5. thomas says:

    I think I will create a bumper sticker that says “my credit score is better than your credit score.”

    Million dollar idea? Should I book Donnie Deutch?

  6. Fermat says:

    The averages you site are unhelpful. As far as I can tell, they are based on a “convenience sample.” Convenience samples are notoriously misleading.

    You make a big deal over large number of users (over 75,000) on which the averages were based. But the size of the sample does not help if the sampling method was bad. Presumably there are reasons for someone to be a “user” of Credit Karma in April 2009. This makes the users different than non-users and it could make their credit scores different.

    The averages of CK users in April 09 cannot be extrapolated to any larger population. The best the averages can do — the only thing they can do is to describe CK users in April 2009.

  7. @ Fermat – my thoughts exactly. The group is self-selecting, rather than a random sample. Interesting to read, but dangerous to draw conclusions from.

    • Ted says:

      As Fermat and Kosmo said, biased sample. In this case I could guess the bias is that the people who report on Credit Karma are more conscious of their credit score and so are more likely to have higher scores than the general population.

    • Jim says:

      I agree with you all, it’s definitely a self-selecting group that is more conscious of their credit score. I still find it interesting. 🙂

  8. cpwilson5 says:

    Quick thought/question: Does Credit Karma have any information on whether there score on average tends to be lower or higher than the FICO score? Or does anyone track both and is willing to tell us if they see a trend? This would be an interesting poll/survey for those who do both. What’s your CK score and what’s your FICO score just to see if most are under or over or about the same. Very interesting info! I’d like to keep that adult GPA as high as possible 🙂

    • anita says:

      My Credit Karma score is 771.

      Here are my actual scores from June 2009:
      Equifax: 662
      Experian: 773
      Transunion: 760

      I haven’t been keeping tabs on my credit karma scores, but it seems to be really close to my experian score.

  9. Patrick says:

    It’s great to see that you readers are averaging much high credit scores than the national average. I agree with you Jim that the average received from that site is interesting to know.

  10. Anthony & Carla–In the many years I worked in credit, about 98% of scores fell between 500 and 800. Of those below 500, they’d be just a few points below. Never saw anything as low as 450 so I have no idea how one gets down into the 300s, and I saw some pretty bad credit including people coming right out of bankruptcy and foreclosure.

    800+ is rare as well, and usually takes in those who have paid their debts down from modest levels to near zero. Not surprisingly, it was mostly people over 65.

    Important to remember too, that you don’t have one credit score, you have three, because there are three credit repositories. As far as lenders, it all depends on which repository they use. Mortgage lenders pull all three scores then take the middle of the three. There can be a surprisingly large variation between the three, and people are often taken by surprise at the results.

    Finally, don’t get too attached to your credit score, it isn’t set in stone. It changes at least once a month based on reporting by creditors.

    • Anthony says:

      I agree… of all the statistics from various sources I’ve seen, never more than 2% sat below 500.

      So, while the midpoint between 300 and 850 is 575, the midpoint between 500 and 800 is 650. This 650 seems more on par with national averages.

      • That would be my thought as well Anthony, and is also consistent with what I’ve seen. 650-685 seems closer to reality.

        No idea how the estimates are compiled, from actual data bases or from surveys. Surveys would certainly inflate the numbers, because people with lower scores tend to be less likely to keep on top of it in the way those with clean credit would, if only because it isn’t flattering.

    • nicole says:

      How do we stop our score from changing then? I haven’t been late on any payments, no new credit, no closing of any previous accounts, no new inquiries, yet my score drops close to 30 points every other month. For example:
      Feb 620
      March 590
      April 626
      May 588
      June 612
      I’ve called TransUnion and my reporting agency I pay and NOBODY has an answer! I’m so frustrated because I’ve been wanting to buy a home. Any ideas? Thank you

  11. Robert says:

    With all the banks and credit card agencies getting their licks in before the laws change in January of 2010, I am worried about my credit score. In fact, I’m so worried, that I won’t even go to any of the big 3 agency sites, because I’m afraid that will lower my score.

    I’ve gotten some odd posts from ID Guard, of which I am a member, and they’re about my bank and a mortgage company looking into my credit file…I’ve never filed for a mortgage.

    With the credit crunch on, I doubt I’ll survive until 2010.

  12. AGH says:

    Below 500? Maxed out credit cards PLUS unpaid judgments/collections/liens…fairly recently e.g. last 12-24 months PLUS NO positive credit…basically that point right before bankruptcy…believe it or not have a friend who filed Ch13 and had a credit score of 600+ right after BK…

  13. eric says:

    well at least you know you have credit-worthy readers 🙂

  14. Michelle says:

    I have nooo idea what my credit score is , and I’m afraid to give my credit card number to the free credit report websites , because they might be a scam . I’m guessing mine and my husband’s score is low ,and I’m afraid were one of the 2% under 500. We filled bankrupt about 5 years ago . We have 3 credit cards all with a limit of under 2000. We pay the credit cards on time though .

    Can someone give rough idea of where my credit score is ??

  15. Robert McFarlane says:

    Checking your own credit score doesn’t affect your credit score.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Wow, this is some very useful information. My current credit score is 681 through transunion. Not quite sure what I can do with it, but most of my life my score has been pretty bad so I am very proud of my current numbers.

  17. Kay jenn says:

    Don’t go pay those third party sites!!! Write each bureau directly for you report. The third parties don’t have all the current and correct info…. Banks get and use the direct info. I learned this the hard way spending 3 months clearing incorrect info according to only to be unable to close on my dream home because of what was really erroueous on my acutal credit reports.

    Bk isn’t necessarily a nuclear bomb to your fico, it depends if you let everything go late before filing. My ex made sure all payments stayed current and filed without a bunch of lates. He was able to get a home and bike loan after 2 years with good credit. If u have to file bk try to keep things current or file for court protection as soon as you know you are busted.

  18. Anonymous says:

    i suck my score is 498

  19. Dan says:

    Credit is a funny animal and actually easily manipulated. After being in the finance industry for most of my adult career here are a few things I have noticed. “debt to income” is just a model along with several others creditors use to support credit “worthiness”. The old adage applies of course, pay your bills on time. However, most will ignore medical bills up to $5,000 and most utility bills are reported. Credit cards can weigh heavy on score so keep them at 50% of credit limit or less as a rolling average. Pay more than the minimum on all loans. No matter what size the loan even $20 bucks extra adds up or pays down the loan faster by applying to principal. Ask questions like- do you have programs that decrease interest for timely payments or how often can I request a lower rate without refinance costs. The biggest mistake most people make is not having any savings. If you lose your job (we all know someone anymore) can you survive for 6-9 months without any income. This is typically what spirals people to bankruptcies and costs thousands when all said and done.

    Pay on time
    Use it wisely
    Have a savings account
    Live below your pay scale
    **no more than 2 credit cards per person**

    Again just some hints!

  20. Shine says:

    Income to debt ratio is what scares me the most. I have over 100k in student loans, and my income is around 45k annually. I have actually thought about filing bk, not because I can’t afford to pay my minimum, but b/c i feel that fixing and working on my credit means nothing b/c of income to debt..
    any advise?

  21. Unkown says:

    Some of you all may want to consider piggy-backing. Ask a close relative whom you know for sure have good credit and pay bills on time to add you as an authorized user on their credit card. This will increase your score every time they make a payment. Just to put them at ease let them know you do not want to actually spend or use the card and to keep it for themselves. Once your score is good enough obtain your own credit and have them to remove you as the user on their cards.

  22. Kathleen says:

    I applied for a credit card, mind you, I just started to try and build credit around May. I got approved for Capital One, I applied for alot of cards during that time.. I applied for a best buy credit card and they said I had a 00209? Im not sure what that means? How long should I wait to apply for another credit card, I have been denied by a few due to to many inquires. Please Help!

    • Jyl says:

      Each time you have your credit checked, by a credit card company, or bank, it costs you 5 points, so if you’ve applied for 6 cards, your Fico will have been reduced by 30 points less than the score was, prior to your applications.

      • Jim says:

        It won’t always be a set number, that’ll depend on your current score. That said, applying for cards will hurt your score so the sentiment is accurate.

  23. Ruth says:

    I am 52 and have NEVER had a credit card, because I always feared being trapped, and felt it was stupid to get into debt and pay, pay, pay for interest. I also have not had any loan since I was around age 30, when I had my last vehicle loan. I pay all my utility bills when they arrive, etc. I just checked in February 2012, out of curiosity to see what my credit score was: 360 (Reason for being so low: Insufficient Credit History). I have never owned a home, or filed bankruptcy. Not using credit, seems to really harm it over time.

  24. Jyl says:

    I am not at all impressed with Transunion. I have followed my score for five years, there, and it hasn’t varied by one point. How is this possible?! I honestly suspect that it is a scam on their part, to charge for monitoring, the result of which which *never* varies, according to them. I have also gone, in person, and ended up with the same score of 762, which I have now seen for 50 months.

  25. Anonymous says:

    CK is not a Transunion score it is a Transrisk score and the two are NOT the same yes Transrisk is owned by Transunion but the scores are worlds apart so don’t go by the Transrisk score.Banks use the Transunion score!!!!

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