The Average American's Credit Score Is Pretty Terrible
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.