The developer of the most popular credit scoring model, FICO® Credit Scores, announced last month the national average FICO score has reached 704, an all-time high. Average scores have steadily risen for nine straight years since bottoming out at 686 during the Great Recession.
Stronger credit scores give consumers better borrowing power, access to better terms and lower interest rates, and even cheaper insurance.
FICO attributes the rise to several key factors:
- Steady economic growth in the United States since the Great Recession.
- Increased consumer awareness surrounding FICO scores and credit in general.
- Americans who missed payments due to financial misfortune during the Great Recession have now had those payments fall off their credit report after the standard waiting period of seven years.
FICO scores range from 300 to 850, and a score of 704 is firmly nested in the “good credit” range. Customers in this range shouldn’t have trouble qualifying for credit, passing credit checks from employers and landlords, and accessing better terms than individuals in lower credit tiers.
Here are some tips to take control of your borrowing power:
- Pay your bills on time: payment history is the single biggest contributor to your credit score.
- Reduce your credit utilization: for revolving credit accounts like credit cards and home equity lines of credit, keep your balance low to help your credit score.
- Space out your credit applications: too many applications in too short period of time can cause a slight dip to your credit score. Space out your credit applications over time to lessen the effects of hard inquiries.
- Play the long game: the older your accounts, the better your credit. Keep your credit cards and older credit accounts open, even if you don’t use them anymore.
- Monitor your credit report: watching your credit report closely helps you identify when new information lands on your report, and you can act quickly if there is fraudulent activity.
Staying on top of your credit with credit monitoring services is one of the most important things you can do to protect your credit.