The average credit score in the U.S. is 695, which is just below what is considered “good.” How about the average credit score in each state? How is your credit score compared to your neighbors?
The personal-finance website WalletHub analyzed the average credit scores of residents in all 50 states and just released its report on 2022’s States with the Highest & Lowest Credit Scores.
Highest Credit Scores
1. Minnesota (724)
2. New Hampshire (719)
3. Vermont (718)
4. Massachusetts (716)
5. South Dakota (715)
6. North Dakota (715)
7. Hawaii (715)
8. Washington (714)
9. Oregon (712)
10. Nebraska (712)
Lowest Credit Scores
41. South Carolina (678)
42. Kentucky (678)
43. West Virginia (676)
44. Georgia (675)
45. Texas (674)
46. Oklahoma (673)
47. Arkansas (673)
48. Alabama (672)
49. Louisiana (668)
50. Mississippi (662)
What are the best ways to build credit?
Philip Gibson, Ph.D., and Associate Professor at Winthrop University, says, “Be patient. Building good credit takes time. You must be consistent with your bill payments. Take the necessary steps to avoid derogatory marks on your credit report.
For example, if you are not able to make a payment on time, reach out to the lender and ask for an extension. If you visit the Doctor’s office, be sure to open all mail that comes from that office to make sure you do not miss a bill. Monitor your credit report to make sure everything looks accurate. Understand how credit utilization, a general rule of thumb is to keep your utilization below 30%, but the closer you are to zero, the better it is.”
“Make sure you pay your bills on time.” says Bradley Allen Stevenson, an Associate Professor at Bellarmine University, “For credit cards, pay them off every month and, even if you cannot pay them off every month, keep your balances low.
Keep your other outstanding debt lower as well and pay it off. More outstanding debt makes you look riskier to potential lenders. Also, for credit cards, especially for younger people, become an authorized user on someone else’s account like a parent (who has good credit practices).”
What are the most common mistakes to avoid when trying to improve your credit score?
Kelsey Syvrud, Ph.D., Assistant Lecturer; Assistant Director of the BB&T Center for Free Enterprise, Florida State University, debunks some common misconceptions about improving your credit score. “The act of closing a credit card account does not positively impact your score.
Recall, credit utilization is a major factor in credit score calculation. Closing a credit card account will reduce your total credit limit. Assuming nothing else about your credit history changes, the closing of the account will increase your credit utilization score, which may hurt your credit score.
Changing your credit score cannot happen overnight. Typically, it may take 30 to 60 days to see a big change from any actions you took to boost your credit. This means you cannot wait until the week before you want to obtain a mortgage or an auto loan to try and improve your credit.
Do not try and open too many new credit or loan accounts at once. Typically, your credit score will be hurt any time a potential lender pulls your credit report…Opening several accounts at once may hurt your score each time a different account lender pulls your credit…Opening multiple new accounts in a short time will reduce your average credit history, which can also hurt your credit score.”
Curtis M. Nicholls, Ph.D. , Associate Professor; Co-Director, Bucknell’s Student Managed Investment Fund, Bucknell University, agrees, “Opening too many cards or assuming that your score is going to change overnight. Also, assuming that simply downloading an app is going to change it.
Ultimately, improving your credit score is driven by changing behavior. Apps or access to your score through a credit card help drive behavior because they put your score in front of you, but no change will occur without better spending patterns and careful management of outstanding debt.”
More From A Dime Saved:
- The IRS Just Adjusted Its Tax Income Brackets — Are You Ready?
- 4 of the Most Dangerous Cities in the World Are in the U.S.
- Boomers Are Spending More Than They Can Afford