Your credit score, a three-digit number, is one of the fastest ways lenders protect themselves against the high financial risk associated with lending.
If their borrowers have an average credit score, lenders can choose to grant potential borrowers loans and credits. However, these loans and credits might come with high interest rates with conditions that might not be too favorable.
Wondering what the anatomy of credit scores are? Well, sit tight and buckle up. Let’s take you on this financial journey.
Types of Credit Scores
You already know that your credit scores make or mar your ability to take out loans from your lender. If you have a good score, you are well on your way to quickly getting credits with a reasonable interest rate.
You just need to know your credit by judging by the models that matter, and you are good to go. Sure, there are a few models today. But, only two of those score models are the standard.
They are the FICO and Vantage. Let’s take a glance at what these credit scores entail.
If you have been curious to know the scoring model that financial institutions use to determine your credit history, here you have it.
FICO is an acronym for Fair Isaac Corporation. They are an analytics software company. Many financial institutions have mostly adopted the score they produce, and most banks judge your creditworthiness using your FICO score.
Furthermore, the FICO scoring method isn’t static. It has gone through several changes since its inception in 1989. Currently, FICO uses nine methodologies to determine the individual’s credit creditworthiness.
The lowest number starts from 300 and ends with the highest credit score of 850. Aside from the highest FICO scores, there are other scores ranges that you can have that would make you look fair to a potential creditor.
Since the average American credit score percentile ranges from 670- 739 depending on the scoring model, having a number at the top of the range or higher will put you at the top of the pack. You’ll be very attractive to potential lenders/creditors.
If you are like most people, you merely have a good credit score. While you might be considered for a loan, the interest rate will likely be high. An impressive number starts at 740+. For those of you in that range, congratulations!
Putting it All Together
In summary, think of your FICO credit score as three numbers that reflect your habit or attitude to paying back the loans or debt offers you’ve received from financial institutions and lenders.
These numbers would help lenders and creditors decide whether they should give you the loan or credit you seek. See the table below for a better understanding of the levels of FICO credit scores.
|Exceptional Credit Score||800 and above|
|Very Good Credit Score||740- 799|
|Good Credit Score||670- 739|
|Fair Credit Score||580- 669|
|Poor Credit score||579 and below.|
There is a hidden rule that your FICO credit score counts in 90% of creditors’ decisions in credit-related matters in the US. In other words, a low FICO credit score discourages prospective lenders from considering you for loans or credits.
They would most likely not grant you the loan you seek from them because your FICO credit score is low. Consider a low FICO number a deal-breaker for financial institutions and lenders, especially in mortgages.
What Goes into a FICO Score?
The FICO model draws data from five different credit data categories that directly go into your credit report.
This category helps lenders understand the kind of risk they are getting themselves into.
For instance, do you pay back all or some of the amount of money you owe? Do you pay back what you owe promptly?
New Credit is the number of recent credits you have acquired over a short period.
For instance, if you have opened more than ten credit accounts in the space of a month, without a long credit history, you are seen as a high risk. Creditors may not want to deal with such a borrower since you come off as desperate.
Credit mix refers to your credit account’s combination, and it includes your credit cards, finance company accounts, retail accounts, installment, and mortgage loans.
Length of Credit History
This is the total number of years you have had your credit. If you have been taking credits and loans for a long while in good standing, this will increase your FICO scores.
Amount owed refers to your outstanding debts. FICO does not look at the amount you owe precisely. Instead, they look at the amount of credit available to you and how much of it you have utilized.
If you owe too much money, this will affect your payment time even if slightly.
These five categories are calculated separately. Thus, each type contributes differently, in terms of their percentage, to your overall credit score.
|Length of Credit History||15|
FICO does not only consider the positives in your credit report. They pay attention to every detail, whether negative or positive. Promptly paying off what you owe will get you a good credit score.
Therefore, a track record of prompt payment will get you a higher credit score.
This is the second credit model used to determine your creditworthiness. It is the brainchild of three credit bureaus, namely TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, and they birth VantageScore Solutions, LLC in 2006.
Like the FICO model, the method used to determine the VantageScore keeps changing. These changes ensure an accurate assessment of a person’s financial pattern.
Although both VantageScore and FICO rely on statistical analysis to determine a prospective beneficiary’s repayment habit, their statistical analysis method varies greatly. We would look briefly into this in the later parts of this article.
Regardless of the difference in the statistical analysis method deployed by both FICO as VantageScore, they have similar number ratings.
VantageScore ranges from 300- 850, just like the FICO’s. This credit score percentile method adopted by VantageScore is a relatively recent change. Though FICO and VantageScore share a scoring number range so their score model differs.
Here is a table of the precise VantageScore rating.
|Exceptional Score||781- 850|
|Good Score||661- 780|
|Fair Score||601- 660|
|Poor Score||500- 600|
|Very Poor Score||300- 499|
Financial institutions, lenders, and landlords use the VantageScore. According to Oliver Wyman’s report, from July 2018 to June 2019, a little over 12 billion VantageScore were adopted in making credit decisions.
What goes into a VantageScore?
Several factors influence your VantageScore. Although the categories are very similar, the allocation of the impact is different from FICO.
So, what are these factors?
Like with FICO, this shows whether or not you have paid your past loans. It also examines how promptly you paid them.
Credit utilization is how much of a person’s available credit that they have used. It usually is a percentage.
This involves your current and delinquent balances.
Recent Credit Applications
If you have either enquired about new credit accounts or opened a new one before applying for a new loan, VantageScore would also consider that.
This factor looks into your available credit balance.
With the recent revision, the VantageScore paid credit now grades the factors by percentage to show how much they are required.
VantageScore Credit Factors
|Credit Age and Mix||21%|
|Recent Credit Applications||5%|
Average Credit Score in the US
The average credit score in the United States is quite complicated because the US has so many people with varying economic factors. Therefore, asking the question “what is the average credit score?” will elicit different responses.
Generally, FICO’s average American credit score is 695, while VantageScore sets its average credit score at 673.
Several factors ranging from age, career/job, the state, region, and city, influence this score. It is only natural, therefore, in what credit score percentile you fall.
Average Credit Score by State
The average credit score varies state by state. Some states have higher average credit scores, while others have lower credit scores.
Some of the states with low average credit scores include Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana. These states have both the lowest average credit accounts and the number of open credit accounts.
Consequently, the average credit scores in these states are considered subprime. The numbers range from 658- 668. Mississippi has the lowest average score.
Minnesota leads with its average FICO scores ranging from 709- 733. A detailed table, adopted from Experian, shows the average credit score of different states.
Average Credit Score by States
|Rank||States||Average Credit Score|
|33||District of Columbia||670|
Average Credit Score by Region
The US census bureau divided the USA into four different regions: the South, Midwest, Northeast, and West.
Credit bureaus have been able to determine the credit scores of these regions. It is worth noting that these regions have different economic strengths.
Consequently, these differences in the economic power of the regions make them have different credit scores. Based on statistics, the Northeast has the highest average FICO score.
The Midwest follows closely. The western region is third place while the South comes last. Here is a proper representation of the data.
Average Credit Score by Region
|Rank||Regions||Average Credit Score|
Average Credit Score by City
High credit scores are a reason to be proud of in most American cities. In the past few years, certain cities in America have witnessed a considerable increase in their credit score.
In 2019, certain cities recorded an increase in their average FICO scores to 703. It says a lot about residents’ personal finance in these cities hence the reason they are proud.
It also means that they can access loans and credits at the best interest rates quickly. While some cities have an average credit score ranging from 740- 799, their highest credit score ranges from 800- 850.
According to Experian, below are some of the cities with the best credit score.
Average Credit Score by City
|Rank||Cities||Average Credit Score|
|1||The Villages, Florida||785|
|2||Los Altos, California||777|
|4||Sun City West, Arizona||771|
|5||San Carlos, California||770|
|12||Mercer Island, Washington||767|
|13||Basking Ridge, New Jersey||766|
|16||Chevy Chase, Maryland||765|
|16||Scarsdale, New York||765|
|20||Pittsford, New York||764|
|22||Garden City, New York||763|
|22||Palo Alto, California||763|
|24||Manhattan Beach, California||762|
|24||Ranchos Palos Verdes, California||762|
Average Credit Score by Age
The credit score of individuals increases as they age. The reason is simple.
You probably started taking out loans in your twenties, right? With age comes wisdom! So as a person grows older, they typically have more experience paying off their loans. Hence, the reason why people’s history and scores increase by age.
The credit score of those above 50 in the USA tends to be higher compared to the younger demographic. For those in the 20s age group, their average score is 662.
However, those in their 60s tend to be around 749. Here is a graphic representation of that data.
average credit score by age is in America
|Age Range||Average Credit Score|
|20-29||662 or less|
|60 and above.||707- 749|
Average Credit Score by Home Buyers
Homebuyers in the USA have quite an impressive average credit score. They have a higher credit score compared to the general range. The average credit score of 728 is considerably lower than the national average for other groups.
According to the United States Federal Bank Reserve, home buyers from diverse minority groups and native USA residents all have impressive average FICO scores.
Asians topped the charts while African Americans are at the bottom of the list.
|Rank||Group||Average Credit Score|
|6||Black or African American||677|
Average Credit Score by Year
When it comes to personal finance in the US, the country’s creditworthiness keeps increasing.
Based on findings by experts, America has witnessed an ever-growing economy from 2009 till 2020. Consequently, the average number keeps rising year after year.
Average Credit Score by Year
|Year||Average Credit Score|
Average American Credit Score by Income
Your job or career directly determines your income. Based on statistics, if you are a high-income earner, the higher your score.
Creditors often pay attention to your credit utilization. If your credit utilization is high, especially as a low-income earner, you might not be granted a credit loan.
But, once your limit is low, your score can improve. Here’s the data based on income.
|Rank||Group||Average Credit Score|
|3||Moderate Income earners||716|
Factors that Affect the Average Credit Score
Your credit score isn’t just a random number magically assigned to you by FICO or VantageScore. Certain factors influence it. These factors affect your average credit score to varying degrees.
Unsurprisingly, your payment history is the most critical factor that can make or break your creditworthiness. No lender wants to lend someone who doesn’t pay back their debts promptly. It puts them in a financially risky situation.
Credit utilization looks at the amount of the credit limit available to you that you have used. For instance, if the credit available to you is about $2000. Creditors would love to know what percentage of the $2000 you have used.
It accounts for 30% of your FICO score while being quite influential on VantageScore.
Your account history contributes 15% of your FICO score and also affects your VantageScore.
The length of credit history, which refers to how long you have been getting loans, matters. Here, your oldest credit account matters since it helps to determine how long you have been taking credit.
Your debt account also affects your score. Even though it doesn’t broadly impact your creditworthiness, you should still take it seriously.
A great way to ensure your account mix impacts your credit score positively is to ensure that you have a diverse credit account.
Maintain not only credit accounts but also have mortgages and car payment accounts as well. Having a diverse account type can also boost your creditworthiness.
Tips for an Above Average Credit Score
By now, you already know that having an above-average credit score is crucial for healthy personal finance. It enables you to get loans at great interest rates.
If you don’t have a good credit score, all is not lost as you can learn how to get a better credit score. We have a few tips for you.
1. Payback what you owe promptly
A poor payment history automatically affects your creditworthiness. When you miss a payment or delay a monthly fee, it taints your credit record for seven years.
That’s why you need to devise a strategy that will help you pay back what you owe promptly.
If you are forgetful, subscribe to auto-payment, keep sticky notes around to remind you of the payment date, or set a reminder.
2. Monitor your credit card utilization
You shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your credit limit monthly. When you spend above 30% or a significant amount from your credit limit, it can be quite alarming to creditors.
They would see you as a potentially high-risk investment, and no lender wants to take such a risk.
Therefore, to get a good credit score, you have to ensure that your utilization ratio is not above 30%.
3. Avoid opening many accounts at once
Even though your account mix is an essential factor determining your creditworthiness, do not open too many accounts at once. Here’s why.
Remember that FICO and VantageScore go through your report to see how many times you have made inquiries about credit accounts or inquired about your credit limit.
You should thus avoid opening too many credit accounts or regularly requesting increases in your credit limit
4. Regularly Monitor Your Credit report.
There are three bureaus that you can ask for your credit report from. They include Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. These bureaus help you monitor your credit report.
There could be an error that could potentially impact your credit score could have on your report. If errors aren’t detected early enough and rectified, they affect your creditworthiness.
That’s why you need to monitor your credit report regularly.
5. Do not close old accounts.
Closing old accounts merely because you no longer use them hurts your credit score. Do you remember we said the length of history is one of the factors that affect your creditworthiness?
Creditors want to know how long you have been taking credit. They determine the length of credit history from the age of your credit accounts.
If you have an old credit account, it shows that you are not new to the field of borrowing. Hence, they can quickly assess how much of a financial risk you are.
The Importance of Monitoring Your Credit
Monitoring your credit report is quite crucial since several things could go wrong with your credit report. Certain benefits come with being that vigilant.
It Prevents Identity Theft
Identity theft is a common scenario in America. Based on statistics, no less than 17.6 million Americans fall victim to identity theft, of which 86% are credit card and bank information fraud.
Always watch out for strange occurrences like an extra line of credits that you aren’t aware of, names you are not familiar with, and any other odd events.
Inaccuracies in your Credit Report
Not spotting and reporting any errors on your credit report could negatively affect your credit score.
Such information is sensitive, and you should thus not tolerate any mistakes in your credit report. You can avoid such errors by monitoring your credit report closely.
In case of any errors, the best credit repair companies will help you correct any mistakes in your credit report.
Credit lower than you’d like? Boost that score!
An alternate method of boosting your credit score is by purchasing a tradeline.
What is a tradeline? A tradeline is a credit account that reflects on your credit report, whether a mortgage or other loan accounts like a student or car loan.
With a 100% on-time payment, tradelines help give you a better credit score on your report and make you look attractive to lenders. So, if you buy a tradeline with a perfect payment history and length of your history, it would reflect on your report as your account, which could, in turn, increase your score.
You can get tradelines for sale with Tradeline Works, one of the industry’s top tradeline companies. Learn more about how do tradelines work, getting a primary tradeline, and wholesale tradelines to see if it might be right for you.
What is considered a decent credit score?
Based on FICO and Vantage Scores’ different scoring models with the score ranging between 670 to 739 are reasonably decent.
What is a good credit score for a 22-year-old?
According to CreditKarma, the average credit score for people in their early 20s is 630. Even with a fair score, you can always improve it by practicing good personal financial habits and purchasing a tradeline for a quick boost.
What hurts credit score the most?
Your payment history hurt your credit scores the most. If you are a serial defaulter, it will hurt your credit score. Read our credit tips to improve your credit score.
Does anyone have an 850-credit score?
Yes, there are some people with such a credit score. But they may be about 1% of America’s population.
Is 640 a good credit score?
It is considered fair. To some lenders, you might be a financial risk. Hence, your credit request might get declined. It will all depend on the lender, though.
Summing It Up
You don’t need the highest credit score to get credits and loans at the best APR and reasonable terms. Therefore, having an above-average score, over 740, will make a lender consider you a worthy borrower.
You, therefore, have to strive to be at that range and it starts with an excellent financial habit.