Credit Score Statistics

May 9, 2013 by

Icredit scores recently spent some time indulging my nerdy side cruising Statistics Brain. If you like numbers, I recommend it. If you’re not sure whether you like numbers, try this exercise:

The thought of doing my tax return makes me feel:

  1. Queasy
  2. Dizzy
  3. Excited
  4. Anxious
  5. Homicidal

If you chose 1, 2, 4, or 5, you don’t like numbers. Or maybe you just don’t like taxes. And if you chose 5, do us all a favor and hire a professional to prepare your return.

The Great Credit Score Obsession

Everyone seems obsessed with credit scores these days. I guess it’s Americans’ competitive nature, brilliantly whipped up by the Fair Isaac Corporation (inventor of the FICO® score), which makes boatloads of cash selling credit scores. So I thought Money Counselor’s readers might be interested in a few credit score related statistics, from Statistics Brain.

credit score statistics

Verified by Statistics Brain on 26 July 2012

My Thoughts on These Credit Score Statistics

  • National average score — The FICO® score ranges from 300 to 850. In general, 700 or above is considered a very good score, and 740+ excellent. So the national average of 691 is a bit below “very good,” which isn’t bad. But it’s not very good. Considering the country is still at over 7% unemployment and the overall economy is fair at best, I might have expected a lower national average score than 691.
  • High and low states — What can I say: As I’ve long suspected, beer and brats are good for your credit score while crawdads and Elvis impersonators are bad.
  • Credit report — I can’t say I’m surprised that only 39% have checked their credit report (does this mean ‘ever’??), but c’mon people, ideally you should be checking your credit report every four months. Even if you have no debt and no intention to borrow, your report can reveal signs of attempted identity theft, and mistakes on your report can elevate your insurance premiums, hurt your employment prospects, and cause landlords to reject your rental application. Besides, if you answered #3 to the exercise above, you’ll enjoy reading your credit report!
  • Credit score — Okay, on this one I’m part of the masses, not an oddball as usual. Not only have I not checked my credit score in the past year, I’ve never checked my credit score. Correct me if I’m wrong, but checking my score would do nothing to change it or tell me what I can do to change it, so I don’t see the point in knowing my score.
  • Undergrads — Nearly all college undergraduates have a credit history, which may reflect the explosion in student debt more than anything else. But I suspect almost all have credit cards too. I had to work and earn money for two years after college before any credit card issuer would approve my application. Times have changed—the high-interest debt trap is set much earlier in life now. And I’ve lost my hair.

How Do You Stack Up?

Are you above average? (Aren’t we all, like the children in Lake Wobegon?) If so, do you live in Wisconsin (go Badgers!)? Am I crazy for never checking my credit score? Take a shot at convincing me I should.

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  1. If you’re not planning to get a loan, then you probably don’t need to see your score.

    I’m pretty sure there are things you can do to improve your score. You can get more credit to increase your credit utilization in the long run. In the short run, it will decrease a bit due to the credit check. I need to do more research.

  2. Hans Fischer

    Hey Kurt as you know, I’m over 80 years old. I’ve NEVER checked my credit score, and have no intention of ever checking it. A recent piece on Public television a few weeks ago depicted several examples of persons, who, after checking their credit score, discovered significant errors. One middle-aged person, with excellent income and no credit problems, spent over a year trying to get the errors corrected, without success. So, I agree that there is no point in knowing your score.

  3. I think it’s important to be on top of this. That said, I suspect most people are simply not on top of their finances. As such, I’m actually surprised that 39% of people have obtained a copy of their credit report. I wonder if that is self-reported, which could include some people wanting to act responsible even though maybe they aren’t.

  4. I also was expecting lower national average considering the state of the economy. However, I am not surprised that only 1/3 of our population even care to check their credit score. I do it once every few years just to make sure that there are no errors.

    Again, if you don’t want debt then why worry about the score that has no meaning.

    Interestingly, people who check their credit score often are the ones who don’t need to depend on their credit for their financial well-being.

    • Very good point–interest in your credit score may be one symptom of good personal financial management, which will eventually lead to no debt and no dependence on credit. Thanks!

  5. i have to check mine!

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