When it comes to credit scores, one of the more common questions people wonder about is what the average score in the US is. There is some good news when it comes to the answer. Even though we have been in an economic downturn for quite a while, overall credit scores have not fallen at the rate some so-called experts had predicted. In fact, with an average of about 690, today's scores are on par with the scores of a few years ago when the economy was booming. Perhaps this says something about the American spirit. Even though the economy is suffering they still do whatever they can to pay their bills on time. And the reality is that with a poor economy, it's even more critical to have a credit score that is average or better, at both the national and state level.

All of that sounds great, but there are still those who see a drop in the average credit score as a matter of "when", and not a matter of "if". This makes sense when you consider that unemployment and underemployment numbers continue to rise. Add to that, that the amount people are investing is dropping, as are their returns on any current investments. Even though they mean well, and will do whatever they can, eventually their ability to pay all of their bills on time will become more difficult. As a result, their credit scores will start to suffer.

Lenders, including banks, are starting to get increasingly choosy about who they will lend money to. Not only that, if you're credit rating isn't high enough, the terms of your loan will be less than favorable. You need to work as hard as you can to protect and improve your credit rating. For example, a friend of mine got divorced and then bought a house a little over six years ago. At the time, his score was just below the average of 690, at 685. However, he was still able to get excellent terms because lenders were giving good terms to those with a rating that was 680 or higher.

Let's see what would happen to my friend today. If everything else remained the same (the divorce, new home, and credit score) he would not be able to get the favorable rate he did a few short years ago. Some lenders are now using a rating of 750 or better as the cut off point for giving the best rates. At 70 points, that's quite a difference. That only goes to show how much more vital it is to maintain a clean and accurate credit history, and do what it takes to have a higher score.

That's all based on the national average, but what about state averages, The lowest average scores (660s to 670s) are found in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and West Virginia.

The states with the highest average credit scores (700 and above) are Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Vermont.