Average U.S. FICO® Score Stays Steady at 716
The national average FICO® Score currently sits at 716 as of April 2022, the same as when FICO last reported on it a year ago.
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The national average FICO® Score currently sits at 716 as of April 2022, the same as when FICO last reported on it a year ago. This is a change from the previous trend of increasing average FICO Score we have observed over the past several years. We saw a substantial increase in the first year of the pandemic when the average FICO Score rose five points from 708 to 713, due to the rapid recovery of the economy, government stimulus programs and historic levels of household saving, along with payment accommodation programs offered by lenders to help consumers manage their debts in the face of COVID-related income loss. Now, the average FICO® Score has leveled off during the second year of the pandemic.
The leveling-off of the average FICO® Score this year has been driven by modest changes in key metrics considered by the score: a small uptick in missed payments, slightly elevated consumer debt levels, and an increase in consumers obtaining new credit. Let's dive into each of these trends in a bit more depth:
Missed payments are on the rise: Missed payments reported in the credit file are up slightly. As of April 2022, just over 15% of the population has had a 30+ day past due missed payment in the past year. This is up by a little over 1% compared to April 2021. Recent missed payments are up most notably on bankcards, followed by auto loans. From April 2021 to April 2022, mortgage loan missed payment rates have remained stable. Staying on top of your bills can have a substantial and positive impact on your FICO® Score. In fact, this “Payment History” dimension of the credit file represents some 35% of the overall FICO® Score calculation.
Consumer debt levels are increasing: While still below pre-pandemic levels, consumer debt levels have been increasing slightly over the last year. As of April 2022, the average credit card utilization was just a little over 31%. This is up from 29.6% as of April 2021, but still down from 33% as of April 2020 (which can be viewed as representing pre-pandemic levels as the effects of COVID and the accompanying financial strain had yet to meaningfully show up in the credit bureau data). “Amounts Owed” comprises some 30% of the overall FICO® Score calculation and is heavily weighted towards credit card balances and utilization -- so the observed increase in credit card debt levels is contributing to the average score leveling off.
New credit activity is back at pre-pandemic levels: More people are obtaining new credit at near pre-pandemic levels. As of April 2022, 47.5% of the population has opened at least one new account in the past year. This is up from 44.8% as of April 2021 and very similar to the 47.3% who had at least one new account on file as of April 2020. The increase from April 2021 to April 2022 is mostly concentrated in newly opened credit cards. The “New Credit” dimension of the FICO® Score represents ~10% of the overall score calculation, and this growing appetite for more credit is another contributing factor to the leveling off of the national average FICO® Score that we have observed.
While the data we analyzed offers clear evidence of modest increases in default rates on certain products, re-leveraging of consumer debt and an uptick in new account openings, these emerging trends do not seem to be substantial enough in aggregate to materially move the national FICO® Score distribution downwards.
While it's always interesting to compare and contrast FICO® Score and credit behavior trends over time, it's important to note these reflect changes in average score at a national U.S. population level and may not reflect what you are experiencing with your own personal credit. It is always important to focus on managing your own FICO Scores responsibly, for example, by paying your bills on time, keeping your credit balances low, and only applying for credit as needed.
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