Your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your financial life: A higher score makes it easier to qualify for better rates on loans and more rewarding credit cards, and adds extra sparkle to your apartment application.
Conversely, a lower score can make your financial life more difficult: The loans and credit cards you will qualify for will likely be smaller and carry much higher rates and less favorable terms. And if your score is really poor, you might be denied access to loans you need altogether.
The average credit score in the U.S. is 711, according to credit reporting firm Experian, but the average score in each state varies significantly, ranging from a high of 739 in Minnesota to a low of 675 in Mississippi.
Grow mapped Experian's data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia to show how Americans' credit scores compare across state lines.
Your credit score is based on data in your credit report. There are several different scoring formulas, and some of the most widely used include FICO and VantageScore. Experian relies on the FICO model, which categorizes scores into five buckets, ranging from poor to exceptional.
Interestingly, the average credit score for every state falls in the "good" category, despite the 64 point spread between Minnesota's 739 and Mississippi's 675.
Every state's average credit score lands in the "good" category, but you'll likely need a "very good" score to secure the best terms for the loan you want. For example, experts say you'll generally need a 740 to nab a great rewards credit card, and at least a 760 to get the best rate on a mortgage, which can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
Video by Stephen Parkhurst
To improve your score, it helps to understand what goes into it. Your score is based on information in your credit report. Your payment history is the most influential factor, accounting for a little more than a third of your score.
"Credit scoring is all about how well you manage your money, not how much money you have," Ted Rossman, industry analyst at Bankrate, told Grow last year.
Here are three simple things you can do to improve your score:
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