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Lowest and Highest Credit Scores By State
●July 28, 2021●7 minute read
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A credit score is one of the most important numbers for adults that want to access finance. A credit report is essentially like a report card on credit management skills, with the credit score being the final grade.
Your credit score will indicate to future lenders and other creditors how reliable you are as a borrower. This will not only impact your ability to access finance – it can also affect how you can access credit, the interest rate you’re offered, and how much you’re able to borrow.
In this article, we deep dive into credit scores including what a credit score is, how you get one, and the lowest and highest credit scores by state.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is a number calculated based on the information in a credit report. It represents how a person has managed credit in the past and demonstrates to future lenders whether they have been a responsible borrower or not.
Your credit score will usually be anywhere from zero to 1,000 or 1,200, depending on the credit reporting agency.
In Australia, there are three main credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax and illion. All three of these agencies are private entities, operating completely independently from each other. Meaning, a person could have a different credit score with each agency.
What’s a ‘good’ credit score?
Before we get into the lowest and highest credit scores, let’s discuss what is considered a ‘good’ credit score. What’s considered ‘good’ and ‘below average’ can differ between agencies. So, let’s use Equifax’s scoring system to give you a general idea:
- Below average: 300 to 509
- Fair: 510 to 621
- Good: 622 to 725
- Very good: 726 to 832
- Excellent: 833 to 1,200
Which state has the lowest credit score?
If you’re not sure how you stack up against your fellow state neighbours, we’ve laid it all out for you.
Queensland (QLD) has the lowest average credit score in Australia, coming in at 641. Just ahead of QLD is Tasmania (TAS), with an average credit score of 643.
Before we discuss the highest credit scores in Australia, let’s see which states are in the middle. After QLD and TAS, Western Australia’s (WA) credit score average is 650, South Australia’s (SA) is 653, Northern Territory (NT) comes in with an average of 660, and New South Wales’ (NSW) average credit score is 664.
Which state has the highest credit score?
The state with the highest average credit score is Australian Capital Territory (ACT), with an impressive score of 680. Victoria (VIC), the second highest average, comes in at 668.
If you’re wondering why ACT is so far ahead of the other states with their credit score average, there’s a few factors that might be at play. Firstly, ACT’s unemployment rate is well below the national average. In Australia, the unemployment rate is 6.2% (as of April 2020). In ACT, the unemployment rate is significantly lower, sitting at 4.2%.
In addition, 42% of the ACT workforce are public servants. They are considered the best money managers in the country, which could correlate with their higher credit scores.
According to the 2016 national census, these were the top five industries of employed people:
- Public Administration and Safety
- Health Care and Social Assistance
- Education and Training
- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
- Retail Trade
In line with this, ACT residents have the highest incomes in the country. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average weekly income of full-time employees living in ACT is $1,890.20.
Average credit scores by state
So that you can clearly see the different average credit scores in each state, we’ve put it into a table below.
According to Finty, these are the average credit scores by state:
||Average credit score
Credit score differences between men and women
In addition to differences by state, there are also some interesting differences in credit scores by gender. According to Credit Simple, women have higher credit scores than men in most states (except for NT). The biggest demonstration of this is in Melbourne, where women have credit scores that are 27 points higher than men living in the same city.
While women outperform men in credit score averages, men still feel more confident with their money than women. 32% of men feel confident with their money management skills, compared with 23% of women that say the same thing.
Did you know?
65% of Aussies don’t even know their credit scores. Of the Australians that do know their credit score, 11% of people check their credit scores weekly.
How do you get a credit score?
When you submit a credit application, for products like personal loans and credit cards, the credit provider conducts what’s called a credit check.
Did you know?
When a lender is conducting a credit check on you, they are essentially asking to see your past financial behaviour. Often, your credit score will be a major factor in whether an application is approved or rejected.
Once someone has conducted a credit check on you, a credit report is automatically generated with all of the information from your credit application. This will include your full name, your address, and any other relevant personal information.
Your credit report will detail the following information about you:
- Payment history
- Total amount owed
- Length of credit history
- Types of credit
- New credit
If it’s a new credit report, you’ll generally be given a ‘neutral’ credit score, because there’s no information to base it off. However, as you continue to access and use credit products, information about how you have managed them will appear on your credit report, and your credit score is calculated as a result.
Information that appears on a credit report includes the dates you have applied for credit, how long you’ve had the credit products, and how you’ve managed the products.
Tips to improve your credit score
Unfortunately, there’s no simple fix to a poor credit score. Credit scores are calculated based on a person’s borrowing history, so any past mistakes can continue to influence a credit score for years to come. Despite this, there are things that you can do that should improve your credit score over time.
Pay your bills on time
When you don’t pay your bills on time, whether it’s for a personal loan, credit card, or utility bill, the creditor can put a default on your credit file until the bill is repaid. This can cause your credit score to drop, and will remain on your credit report for five to seven years.
Paying your bills on time demonstrates to lenders that you can responsibly manage credit products, which can reflect in your credit score. With the introduction of comprehensive credit reporting, most credit agencies show your good financial behaviour, not just the bad.
Minimise new credit applications
While it might seem like a good idea to submit multiple credit applications to find the best deal, this can actually have the opposite desired effect. Submitting multiple applications at one time can indicate to lenders that you are in financial distress, and may make lenders hesitant to lend to you. Additionally, this can cause your score to drop. If you need to submit multiple credit applications, do your best to space them out as far as you can.
Consider debt consolidation
If you’re finding it impossible to manage multiple credit products, you could consider a debt consolidation loan. When you consolidate your debts, you are essentially combining multiple debts into one payment plan to one creditor. This can make it easier to manage, and outline to you exactly when you will be debt-free.
Before jumping straight into submitting a debt consolidation loan application, you should do some calculations to figure out whether it’s going to save you money, or end up being more expensive overall. You might need to consider account closing fees, new account opening fees, and different interest rates and fees on the new loan, versus what you’re already paying.
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Written by Rachel Horan
Rachel Horan is a Content Writer for Jacaranda Finance. Rachel has previously produced content for Brisbane City Council, Black & White Cabs, and Clubs Queensland. She has a Bachelor of Mass Communication with Distinction from the Queensland University of Technology.