Personal Finance

Average FICO score hits all-time high

Key Points
  • After bottoming a decade ago, credit scores are now at a record high.
  • The average national credit score is 706, according to FICO.
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When it comes to credit, Americans are scoring better than ever.

For the first time, the average national credit score has reached 706, according to FICO, the developer of one of the most commonly used scores by lenders.

FICO scores range from 300 to 850. A good score generally is above 700, and those over 760 are considered excellent.

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That can make all the difference in the interest rate a consumer is going to pay for credit cards, car loans and mortgages — or whether they will get a loan at all.

"At over 700, you will qualify for just about any credit at favorable terms," said Ethan Dornhelm, vice president for scores and analytics at FICO.

Average credit scores most recently bottomed at 686 during the housing crisis a decade ago, when there was a sharp increase in foreclosures. They have since steadily ticked higher, according to Dornhelm. (See FICO's chart below.)

"We've been in a relatively stable economic period," Dornhelm said. During that time, low unemployment and a strong market have helped improve the average consumer's financial health and FICO score, which Dornhelm referred to as "a lagging indicator."

In addition, more people understand their credit behaviors and scores, and they are checking their scores more often, Dornhelm said. As a result, many consumers have changed their behavior for the better.

New standards for public records, which stripped all civil judgments and tax liens from credit reports, also played a role in driving the overall average higher.

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