What Are the Highest, Lowest & Average Credit Scores?

by Justin Johnson
It's smart to know and monitor your credit score.

Your credit score is a barometer of your financial and personal creditworthiness. Lenders, insurance companies and even potential employers inspect your credit score to learn more about you and your financial habits. It is important to not only know your credit score, but also the basics of credit reporting. While the FICO score is a popular means of measuring credit, the Vantage Score is another standard credit reporting measurement.

Highest Credit Score

The highest possible Vantage Score that you can achieve is 990 and the highest attainable FICO score is 850. According to credit analysis firm FICO, consumers with perfect or near perfect credit scores typically carry small balances on their credit cards and utilize a small portion of their total available credit. The credit reporting agency Experian reported that as of 2012, Minneapolis, Minnesota had the highest average Vantage Score of any city, with an average score of 787.

Lowest Credit Score

Poor credit can be caused by many factors. As of 2012, just over 14 percent of people with a credit profile had a poor credit score. Credit scores bottom out at 300; however, anything from 300 to 549 is considered a poor FICO credit score. The lowest average Vantage Score of a city in the United States belongs to Harlingen, Texas, at 688, almost a full 100 points below Minneapolis.

Average Credit Score

The average Vantage Score in the United States as reported by Experian in 2012 was 750. While the average debt load of Americans increased by 1.4 percent, the number of payments made beyond their due date actually decreased by 2 percent. The average FICO score in 2012 was 690, which according "The Wall Street Journal" is approximately the same average FICO score reported in 2007, before the American economy was ravaged by the Great Recession.

Credit Report Basics

In addition to the scores, credit reports contain other information that potential lenders use to make their decisions. Personal information such as name, address, social security number and date of birth help provide your identity to potential creditors. Each of your credit accounts are listed on the credit report, along with balance and payment history. The number of times that you requested additional credit, known as a credit inquiry, is listed in detail on the report. Additionally, credit reporting agencies obtain public record information to attach to your credit profile. This information includes bankruptcy filings, wage garnishments and tax liens.

About the Author

A southeastern Ohio native, Justin Johnson is a finance professional with accounting and financial planning experience in various manufacturing industries. He discovered a love for writing as student at Pensacola Christian College and after learning many lessons in the workplace, he enjoys writing business and finance pieces.

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