If you’re like most adults in the United States, you’ve spent less on credit cards than before the pandemic. Many Americans have also used less of their available credit and even paid off their debts, in many cases using stimulus checks.
All of these trends have led to a dramatic increase in the average American’s credit rating, according to the State of Credit 2021 report from Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus.
Experian found that VantageScore’s average credit score was 695 in 2021, up from 688 in 2020 and 681 a year earlier. According to FICO, a data analysis company that uses slightly different metrics to report credit scores, the average credit score recently hit a record high of 716.
Despite the small difference between these two numbers – which is due to the different ways of calculating VantageScore and FICO scores – the two are what experts consider to be good scores. A score of 300 to 579 is bad, 580 to 669 is fair, 670 to 739 is good, 740 to 799 is very good, and 800 to 850 is exceptional.
Average credit scores have increased for all but one generation, and the typical credit score for each generation is currently considered fair or good, according to Experian. From 2019 to 2021, millennials saw their scores increase by the most points, from an average of 648 to 667, almost hitting the ârightâ territory. The only age group that has seen a drop in credit scores from 2020 to 2021 is the Silent Generation, and even after the slight drop, they have an average score (730) higher than everyone else.
Average credit score, by generation
- Generation Z (16 to 24 years old): 660.5
- Generation Y (millennials, 25 to 40): 667.4
- Generation X (41 to 56): 685.2
- Boomers (57 to 75): 724.2
- Quiet Generation (76+): 729.9
- American average: 695.3
Rising credit scores are obviously a positive sign for the overall financial health of Americans. Higher credit scores can be a gateway to accessing low-interest loans, securing housing, and generally gaining a stable financial base.
A good credit rating will make it easier for you to get a good deal on a mortgage rate or a car loan, in addition to giving you a boost when trying to lock in your lease in a new apartment.
The list doesn’t end there: a bad credit score will make you pay more for things like insurance. Home insurance premiums can be up to 114% higher for homeowners with lower than average credit scores compared to those with excellent ratings. Auto insurance companies also use credit scores to determine your rates, although this practice is now banned or restricted in some states to be unfair. Overall, Latin Americans and blacks have lower credit scores than their white counterparts, in part because they have been excluded from credit opportunities.
If you don’t yet have a credit score or if you’re unhappy with being at the bottom of the scale, there are steps you can take to build credit and increase your credit score. Among them, you could apply to your local credit union for a credit builder loan or become an authorized user on the existing credit card of a trusted adult.
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