CNBC: Average FICO Credit Score Reaches All-Time High

After reaching an all-time low of 686 in in late 2009, the average national credit score has reached 706 for the first time ever. This is according to FICO, the developer of one of the most commonly used scores, and based on original reporting by CNBC.

Typically ranging from a low of 300 to a maximum of 800, the FICO credit score can be a pivotal factor in determining the interest rate a potential borrower will pay on a mortgage transaction, and a score that is considered “good” tends to hover at above 700. An exceptional score is usually at or above 760.

“At over 700, you will qualify for just about any credit at favorable terms,” said Ethan Dornhelm, vice president for scores and analytics at FICO to CNBC.

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A sharp increase in foreclosures in the late 2000s is credited with the sharp drop in the average national credit score, brought about by the 2008 financial crisis. Since bottoming out at 686 in October 2009, they steadily began creeping higher, Dornhelm explained.

“We’ve been in a relatively stable economic period,” Dornhelm told CNBC.

That period has seen generally low unemployment and a strong stock market, helping to improve the financial health of average American consumers along with their average collective FICO score.

Consumers’ generally greater level of awareness concerning credit utilization has also made a difference, according to Dornhelm. More people understand their credit behaviors and their scores, and greater availability of credit checking services have allowed consumers to check their scores more often, he says.

The federal government also took legislative action in 2009 aimed specifically at giving consumers of credit more information.

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 signed by former President Obama included provisions to allow consumers more time to pay their bills after they are mailed, added restrictions on retroactive rate increases, required disclosures for how long paying a balance would take for consumers choosing to pay only minimum balances, and restrictions of fees on low-balance cards sold to cardholders with bad credit.

“New standards for public records, which stripped all civil judgments and tax liens from credit reports, also played a role in driving the overall average higher,” writes CNBC’s Jessica Dickler.

Read the original story at CNBC.

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