The Average Credit Score in America

Written by |
Advertisement

Recent data from the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), the leading standard for credit scores, indicates that economic gains consumers made during the COVID-19 pandemic are starting to wane.

Your credit score is one of the main indicators of your purchasing power. As it rises, it improves your standing among lending institutions. As it falls, the opposite occurs.

What Is the Average Credit Score Right Now?

The average credit score is 716, according to a blog post on FICO.com. This figure has held steady since April 2021; scores have “leveled off,” the post says. 

Why Have Credit Scores Leveled Off?

Two primary factors have contributed to credit scores stagnating, according to the agency’s data.

More Missed Payments

A report from the New York Fed, a regional entity of the Federal Reserve, says that household debt ballooned to $16.15 trillion in the second quarter of 2022.

According to FICO, “Missed payments reported in the credit file are up slightly. As of April 2022, just over 15% of the population has had a 30+ day past due missed payment in the past year. This is up by a little over 1% compared to April 2021.”

The report goes on to note, “During the first year of the pandemic, the combination of government stimulus programs such as the CARES Act and payment accommodation programs offered by lenders helped millions of consumers stave off missed payments.”

Rising Consumer Debt 

Consumer debt has risen slightly over the past year, although it remains below pre-pandemic levels, according to FICO.

“As of April 2022, the average credit card utilization was 31%. This is up from 30% as of April 2021, but still down from 33% as of April 2020,” the FICO blog post says.

Here’s a look at average credit scores since 2017:

Advertisement
Month/YearAverage FICO Credit Score
April 2022716
October 2021716
April 2021716
October 2020713
April 2020708
October 2019706
April 2019706
October 2018705
April 2018704
October 2017701
April 2017700

What Is a Good Credit Score?

Credit scores can range from 300-850. So what exactly is a “good” credit score? Money expert Clark Howard has an answer:

“There are certain breakpoints where things get easier for you,” Clark says. “One that’s really important is being around a 680. That’s a point at which people look at you differently than when you’re below that.”

Beverly Harzog, a credit card expert for U.S. News & World Report says an even higher credit score will yield even more results.

“If you can get up to around a 760, you’re going to get the same benefits, the same offers, that someone who has an 840 score is going to get,” she adds.

Tip: Don’t obsess over achieving an 800 credit score! Clark says, “Your goal is from wherever you are right now, to try to move that number up. But once you get to 760, just give it a rest. My credit score is somewhere around an 818. That’s higher than I need.”

How To Increase Your Credit Score

If your credit score is nowhere near those cited above, don’t worry. There are several ways to raise it.

Clark says the two biggest ways to increase your credit score are to:

  • Make all of your payments on time.
  • Keep your credit utilization rate low. (That’s the percentage of how much of your available credit you’re using.)

“Thirty percent of your available credit is where you want to be,” Clark says in his podcast. “So, in the example of $10,000 in credit, [you want to have] no more than $3,000 in use. If you go above 50%, your credit goes diving off a cliff.”

Ready to boost your credit score? Follow these five tips.

Advertisement
Welcome bonuses can be a great way to boost the value of a credit card. Best Credit Card Welcome Bonuses for 2022 - If you're in the market for a new credit card in 2022, you may be hoping to cash in on the hundreds of dollars in sign-up bonuses offered to new customers. Welcome bonuses and offers are a marketing tool that…
The best cell phone plans include Tello, Mint Mobile, Visible, T-Mobile, Consumer Cellular and more Best Cell Phone Plans in 2022: The Cheapest Plan for Every Need - Team Clark ranks the best cell phone plans and deals! See our favorites for unlimited data, families and cheap plans starting at $10/month.