The average FICO score in the U.S. hit an all-time high of 703 last year, according to the 2019 Consumer Credit Review by credit-reporting company Experian.
That’s up from 701 in 2018 and up 14 points since 2010. Fifty-nine percent of Americans in 2019 had a credit score of 700 or more, the largest share ever above that threshold. A scant 1.2% of Americans had a perfect FICO score of 850, but Experian reports that figure also is on the rise.
“Americans are making better credit decisions … which is an indication of consumers being more educated on their credit,” said Shannon Lois, Experian’s head of analytics, consulting and operations. “Late-payment rates have decreased for several credit products this past decade. Credit-card balances saw moderate growth over time along with overall consumer debt, signaling healthy credit behavior that provides confidence to lenders.”
Millennials are the driving force behind the nation’s growing credit scores, Experian added. Millennials now hold an average score of 668, with the generation seeing its average FICO score increase by 25 points since 2012 — the biggest increase of any age demographic.
Meanwhile, the average age that Americans are reaching FICO scores of 700 (generally considered the “good credit” watermark by many lenders) is dropping. In 2019, that age was 54, the lowest has ever been. Eight years have been trimmed from the average age since 2012. The average age when Americans are reaching their peak FICO scores also is decreasing. In 2019, it was 78, down by 11 years from the average age of 89 from 2012 to 2016.
Mortgage holders predictably have higher credit scores than the national average. The average FICO score for someone who had a mortgage in 2019 (about 36% of all Americans) was 747. The average mortgage balance in 2019 reached $203,296, up $4,919 (2%) from 2018.
And although overall mortgage debt is growing, Experian reported that data shows mortgage holders are making their loan payments on a timely basis. Since 2010, delinquencies of 30 to 59 days have fallen by 52%, while late payments of 60 to 89 days have declined 69% and payments up to 180 days late have decreased by 85%.