When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US in early 2020, it caused people to change their habits in ways that had never been seen before. Due to quarantine rules and rules about keeping people away from each other, many businesses had to close for a while, leaving only necessary services open at limited capacities. In response to these problems, the way money works changed, which had different effects on different states' credit scores.

As people in North Dakota and other states tried to figure out how to deal with the uncertainty of the pandemic, their finances changed. The average credit score across the country went up, but North Dakota's score didn't go up as much, which is a unique trend in an economy that is always changing.

Different things happened to people in North Dakota because of the pandemic. As help came in the form of things like stimulus payments, many people were able to improve their financial situation by saving more and paying down debt. On the other hand, economic problems, especially job loss, made it hard for a lot of people to pay their bills.

During the pandemic, both state and federal governments put in place ways to ease financial stress, such as choices for loan forbearance. Because of these efforts, the number of people who were late on different kinds of loans went down. This led to small gains in North Dakotans' credit scores.

How do things look in our region?

  • 30th Montana
  • 44th  Minnesota
  • 49th  South Dakota
  • 50th  North Dakota

When looking at the percentage change in average credit scores from September 2019 to September 2022, North Dakota's change was 0.8%, or 6 points. This growth is different from the average gain in the U.S., which was 1.6%, or an 11-point change. In 2022, the average credit score in North Dakota was 733. The average credit score in the rest of the country was 714. For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, see States With the Biggest Increase in Credit Scores During COVID on Upgraded Points.

These changes show how the pandemic has different effects on credit scores in different areas. Changes in credit scores were caused by a combination of things, such as government actions, regional economic situations, and individual financial decisions. As the country works to get back on its feet, these differences show how important it is to make financial plans that fit each person's situation and the way the economy works in their area.

Long story short we have some work to do to improve our credit scores! According to the Federal Reserve Board, there are a few things you can do now to start making improvements.

  • Monitor Your Credit Reports: Obtain free copies of your credit reports from major credit bureaus such as Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Review them for errors, discrepancies, or fraudulent activities. Disputing inaccuracies can lead to a boost in your score.
  • Timely Payment: Your payment history significantly influences your credit score. Consistently paying bills, loans, and credit card balances on time demonstrates your creditworthiness. Set up payment reminders or automate payments to ensure you never miss due dates.
  • Credit Utilization: Keep your credit card balances low in relation to your credit limits. Aim for a utilization rate below 30%. High balances can signal financial stress and negatively affect your score.
  • Diversify Your Credit Mix: A diverse credit portfolio, including credit cards, installment loans, and mortgages, can positively impact your credit score. However, only acquire credit that you genuinely need and can manage responsibly.
  • Length of Credit History: Maintain older accounts, as a longer credit history can be beneficial. Avoid opening numerous new accounts within a short period, as it can lower your average account age.
  • New Credit Applications: Each credit application leads to a hard inquiry on your report, which can temporarily lower your score. Apply for credit only when necessary.
  • Address Delinquent Accounts: If you have delinquent accounts, work on settling them. Timely payments and settling old debts can gradually improve your score.
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