Average Credit Score by Race: Understanding the Economic Divide

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In the landscape of American finance, credit scores by race offer a stark representation of economic disparity. While credit scores do not inherently consider personal demographics, the average credit score by race suggests a systemic divide.

Credit Score Averages Among Different Races

Racial Breakdown of Average Credit Scores

A deep dive into credit score demographics reveals a persistent gap. The average black credit score and, more broadly, the average African American credit score, often fall below the median when compared to other racial groups.

Race2019 Average ScoreClassification
Asian745Very Good
Source: Shift Credit Card Processing, August 2021, reporting U.S. Federal Reserve data

Key Takeaways

  • The distribution of credit scores across racial lines indicates systemic financial challenges faced by minority communities.
  • Credit score statistics show that minority groups are more likely to have subprime credit scores, with significant implications for economic opportunities.

The Impact of Credit Score Disparities

Credit card debt by race and the prevalence of subprime scores in minority communities point to a broader issue of access to affordable credit. This disparity can perpetuate a cycle of financial hardship and impede wealth-building.

How Credit Scores Are Developed

Credit scores are a reflection of one’s financial history, yet what credit score are you born with? None. The journey to a 732 credit score or any score begins with the use of credit products and responsible financial behavior over time.

Credit Invisibility and Its Consequences

The concept of “credit invisibles” is more acute in minority populations, with credit scores by race and gender showing that approximately 15% of Black and Hispanic consumers lack any credit history, compared to a lower percentage among their white and Asian counterparts.

Lending Discrimination and Its Effects

Discriminatory lending practices have historically and currently affected the ability of minority groups to access credit, further influencing the average credit score by race. Such practices underscore the importance of the question: What percent of Americans do know their credit score? Are you in that group? Awareness and understanding of one’s credit score are the first steps toward financial empowerment.

Lending discrimination has long-term effects on borrowing opportunities and wealth accumulation. Cases like that of Trident Mortgage Co., which was found to discriminate against families in majority-minority neighborhoods, highlight the ongoing challenges.

Tiffaney Williams, an Atlanta credit educator, notes the real-world impact of such discrimination, recounting instances where minority clients with similar financial profiles to white clients were rejected for credit.

Other Race-Related Factors That Influence Credit Scores

Wealth disparities, student loan debt, and financial literacy all play a role in the credit score gap. The median income for Black households is significantly lower than that for white households, which impacts credit scores due to the ability to pay bills on time and the credit limits offered.

Building Credit: Practical Steps

To address these disparities, individuals can take proactive steps to build credit. Whether it’s through secured credit cards, becoming an authorized user, or engaging with community banks, there are pathways to improve one’s credit score.

To combat these disparities and build credit, individuals can take several practical steps:

  • Apply for a secured credit card: These cards require a cash deposit and can help build credit history.
  • Become an authorized user: Being added to a family member or friend’s credit card can help build credit.
  • Use community banks or credit unions: These institutions often offer products tailored to help community members build credit.
  • Get a store credit card: While they may have higher interest rates, they can be easier to qualify for and help establish credit.
  • Receive credit for rent and utility payments: Services like Experian Boost can add rent and utility payments to credit reports.
  • Work with a reputable credit repair company: Engaging a trusted credit repair company can be a valuable step in correcting inaccurate information on your credit report and improving your credit score. These companies can guide you through the process, liaise with credit bureaus on your behalf, and provide advice on strategies to improve your credit health.
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The Final Word

The average credit score by race highlights the need for continued efforts to address financial disparities. By understanding and utilizing tools to build and protect credit, individuals can begin to score your race not as a determinant of financial destiny but as a starting point for growth and opportunity.