Experian, which recently conducted their 12th annual State of Credit report, found that the average U.S. credit scores rose seven points since 2020 to 695, which is the highest point in more than 13 years.
The report explained that many consumers were managing their credit relatively well before the pandemic hit. With the addition of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, consumers still seemed to be in good condition in terms of financial well-being.
Also noteworthy, many Americans were ordered to stay home at the beginning of the pandemic, resulting in record savings levels and lower unsecured and total debt levels, as well as lower credit utilization rates and fewer missed payments.
This year, Experian partnered with Operation Hope, the nation’s largest nonprofit dedicated to improving financial literacy, for the launch of the first HOPE Financial Wellness Index. The Index sets out to highlight the average credit score in every state and city.
"We believe credit education plays an important role in driving financial inclusion and helping consumers reach their fullest potential," said Alex Lintner, President Experian Consumer Information Services.
Here are the states with the highest average credit scores.
Minnesota – 726
Vermont – 719
New Hampshire – 718
Washington – 717
Massachusetts – 716
Here are the states with the lowest.
Mississippi – 666
Louisiana – 669
Alabama – 672
Oklahoma – 672
Texas – 673
In addition to each state’s average credit scores, the State of Credit Report also found that scores have improved year-over-year for every generation, a result of the decrease in utilization rates and fewer missed payments.
Credit utilization rates have declined for every generation except Gen Z, which saw a spike in rates year-over-year. In the same way, credit card balances also rose for Gen Z by $115 year-over-year, despite showing a decrease for every other generation.
Gen Z is the newest generation, born between 1997 and 2012. They are currently between 6 and 24 years old.
Overall, consumers are missing fewer payments, with significant improvements seen amongst the younger generations.
"While these findings are positive, we recognize they do not tell the full story and many consumers face financial obstacles due to a limited credit history," Lintner said.
Additionally, there are also many individuals and communities who struggle with financial literacy due to a lack of education and resources.
As we slowly start to recover from the pandemic and overcome the challenges of the last year-and-a-half, the current state of consumer credit is crucial.
Luckily, Operation Hope seeks to find solutions for consumers, working to improve their financial health and literacy and help them manage their credit scores to position them well financially.
"By helping people raise their credit scores, we are empowering them to take advantage of one of our nation’s most democratic tools. From housing and employment to healthcare and education, creditworthiness can be leveraged to improve our overall quality of life."
"We’re committed to using the HOPE Financial Wellness Index as a force for good in the communities we serve," John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE founder and CEO concluded.