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Average credit score trend analysis/time series chart

The ups and downs. Are credit scores getting better or worse?

| By Greg Fisher

Is the national average credit score declining or improving?

In an icy climate of litigation (and spin) between consumer reporting agencies and the main credit score company, we wait for an update of the median FICO score. It appears that the trend line is flat, but FICO says that they have not updated the figure recently.

Here is a credit score chart, cobbled together from various sources, to show average credit scores over time, year-by-year.

Average credit score trend analysis/time series chart

FICO PLUS VantageScore TransRisk
2000 700-750 N/A
2001 N/A
2002 roughly 720 N/A
2004 720, about 725 678
2005 723 677 662
2006 723 677
2007 723 692
2008 723 692 657
2009 723* 693 736 (EXP), 769 651

* "A few years ago, Fair Isaac calculated that the average FICO score in the U.S. was 723. Fair Isaac hasn't gone back to recalculate the average recently, but observers say it has most certainly dropped in the past year." - TIME, January 9, 2009

Media reports of American national average credit score trend

"The median FICO score for the national population did not change between April 2008 and October 2008." - FICO

"In a tough economic climate, you might expect everyone's score to fall. Historically, that's not what happens, says [CEO Mark] Greene of Fair Isaac." - National Public Radio, November 24, 2008

"Millions of consumers' scores have dropped, making it more expensive for them to borrow money - or even impossible if the score has sunk low enough." - McClatchy Newspapers, July 9, 2009

"Two big credit rating agencies, Experian and TransUnion, say credit scores have begun to fall dramatically as banks and jobs keep tightening" - BusinessWeek, July 14, 2009

LOL AOL. Idiotic: On something called WalletPop, the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Improving your Credit Score" tries to make a point that credit scores are declining by comparing two different score models. Credit Karma says that its U.S. Credit Score Climate Report is based on the TransUnion TransRisk score (scale: 300-850). But the WalletPop piece compares it to an entirely different score model from a different consumer reporting agency, Experian's PLUS (scale 330-830), and concludes that average credit scores are "down almost 20 points since 2007."

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