"After several years of economic recovery, consumer credit health is clearly improving," Arkali says.
Today's average VantageScore also is on the rise. The 673 average score is up from 666 in 2014. In its 2015 "State of Credit" study, Experian noted that the rise in the VantageScore was a result of improving credit conditions.
For example, by the end of 2015, late payments had decreased by 4.4% over the previous year. Overall, late payments had dropped by 17.3% since 2010, when the recession was at its peak.
Experian's study also took the extra step of identifying where average credit scores are best and worst. The top 10 cities with the best average credit scores are all found in the upper Midwest, with the Minnesota cities of Mankato, Rochester and Minneapolis taking the nation's top 3 slots, and Duluth finishing at No. 6.
By contrast, the cities with the worst average credit scores are all found in the South and West. Greenwood, Mississippi, finished at the bottom, followed by Albany, Georgia, and Riverside, California.
Overall, the climb in average credit scores may be leveling off now that the economy has stabilized.
Improving your credit score
Now that you know the average credit score, you can take steps to improve your own score. Jeff Richardson, a spokesman at VantageScore, says there are several ways you can raise your credit score:
- Consistently making your loan payments on time every month.
- Using a relatively small portion of the credit available on any credit card.
- Paying down debt rather than just moving it around.
- Not opening a lot of new accounts at the same time.
- Regularly checking your credit reports to make sure they are error-free. You can check your report for free at www.annualcreditreport.com, or by calling (877) 322-8228.
You can also track your credit score for free at myBankrate.
MyFICO echoes those tips, but also notes that it can take time to improve a credit score once it has been damaged.
For example, if you pay off a collection account, it will still take 7 years before the bruise to your credit completely heals and fades from your credit report.
So, whether you are simply building a credit history from scratch or trying to recover from credit mistakes, patience is key. MyFICO notes that older credit problems do not impact your score as much as more recent credit activity, so your score will improve over time as you handle credit more responsibly.
Practice good credit habits and you will be well on your way to an average credit score -- or something much better.