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How does your credit stack up to other Americans? A new report indicates that the average credit score across the US is just 604 — pretty poor compared with what’s needed for some of the best rewards cards. There are a few factors associated with your assigned score, such as payment history, but ultimately it seems that the average American’s credit is in subprime territory.
The actual average varies quite a bit across different states and zip codes — wealthier areas like certain neighborhoods in the Bay Area, Seattle and New York have some of the highest average scores around the US (approaching the 850 cap), while less prosperous cities, like Detroit, end up at the bottom of the list. The highest average credit scores for states were Massachusetts (636), Hawaii (632), Washington state (628) and New York state (628), whereas D.C. came in at 627. The states with the lowest average scores were Mississippi (572), Arkansas (577), West Virginia (580) and Alabama and Kentucky (582).
In addition to the obvious factors like late payments, there are a few lesser-known factors that contribute to your score, such as credit utilization. The report also suggests that more than half of Americans use more than 70% of their credit line — not the best strategy if you’re trying to keep your credit score healthy and take advantage of cards with great benefits like the Citi Prestige. If your score isn’t the healthiest — have no fear, there are plenty of strategies to get you started.
Wondering what your score is? There are a few cards that offer free FICO reports as part of the card’s benefits.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards