What Credit Score Do You Need to Rent an Apartment in 2021?

Good credit is becoming more and more crucial when renting an apartment. In fact, the average credit score needed to rent an apartment has increased by one point every year for the past three years. Specifically, based on our analysis of over 5 million rental inquiries nationwide, the average renter credit score in the United States was 638 in 2020.

In addition, credit scores can also vary widely across building types. For example, tenants in high-end buildings had an average credit score of 669 last year – only 43 points separated them from renters living in mid-price buildings, whose average rating was 626. During this time The credit score of people living in final buildings was 597, exactly 29 points lower than those of mid-range apartment renters.

Baby boomers lead with the highest average credit scores

By generation, Baby boomer renters lead all other generations in 2020 with an average credit score of 683. As they have had more time to accumulate their scores, they are in better shape Gen Xers (653), Millennials (644) and younger tenants, who are just starting to live on their own, Generation Zers (586).

And, while all generations have increased their average scores over the past three years, Gen Z renters have taken the most impressive leap. This generation increased their average scores by 30 points between 2018 and 2019, then by 25 points between 2019 and 2020.

By type of building, Baby boomers leading the way again with some of the highest average credit scores for all three types of buildings, followed by Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. The only gap is for lower end buildings. In this case – and just behind the baby boomers – Gen Y applicants have a higher average credit score (612) than Gen Z (551) and X (606).

Notably, all generations who want to live in high-end buildings would need higher scores than their generation average. In particular, Generation Z would need 38 additional credit points; Millennials should have 30 more; Generation X is expected to increase by 22 points; and baby boomers should add 32 points to their credit score.

Top 10 Cities With The Highest And The Lowest Credit Scores For Renting Apartments

According to data from the 50 largest cities, apartment renter credit scores range from over 700 in some of the most competitive markets – such as San Francisco, Boston, New York, Seattle and Oakland, CA to under 600 in Arlington, TX. , Memphis, TN, Las Vegas, Indianapolis and Baltimore.

More precisely, San Francisco is the most competitive city for rentals. Renters here have an average credit score of at least 719. This is followed by cities of the same caliber, such as Boston (716), new York (715) and Seattle (706). In this way, Minneapolis, MN is the surprise among the top 10, with an average credit score of 688 in this city – higher than the Los Angeles tenant credit score of 682 and San Diego of 680, and similar to that of 689 in Washington DC.

Top 10 Cities With The Best Rental Credit Scores In 2020

City State Avg. Credit score
San Francisco THIS 719
Boston MY 716
new York NEW 715
Seattle Washington 706
Oakland THIS 702
San jose THIS 699
Washington DC 689
Minneapolis MN 688
Angels THIS 682
San Diego THIS 680

Top 10 Cities With The Lowest Credit Scores For Renting In 2020

City State Avg. Credit score
Arlington TX 580
Memphis TN 583
Las Vegas NV 584
Indianapolis IN 590
Baltimore MARYLAND 598
Milwaukee WI 601
Albuquerque NM 602
Mesa THE 602
Houston TX 606
Tulsa Okay 607

For those with lower credit looking to secure a nice apartment, chances are they will Arlington, Texas. This city has the lowest average credit score (580) among the cities surveyed. Comes next Memphis, TN with 583, followed by Las Vegas with 584 and Indianapolis, IN with 590.

Top cities with the highest credit scores by generation

Baby boomer renters living in New York have the highest average credit score of 732. They are followed by baby boomers in Austin, TX, with 722 and Omaha, NE, with 720.

New York also takes the top spot for Generation X tenants (slide 2). With an average credit score of 724, the New York Gen Xers outperform both those living in Boston (721) and those in San Francisco (711).

However, San Francisco is where Millennium tenants have the highest average credit score at 726 (slide 3). The Boston Millennials come next with an average score of 721, followed by the New York Millennials with 719.

The youngest generation, Generation Z, has the highest average rating for rentals in Boston (691), one of the nation’s top college towns (slide 4). San Francisco takes second place for youngest adults, with Gen Z scores averaging 688 here, followed by 666 in Seattle.

Similar scores can take you from a low-end apartment in a competitive market to high-end living in less competitive locations.

Even tenants with less than ideal credit scores who want to live in a luxury apartment building might do so in cities like Mesa, AZ (598), Las Vegas (608) or Houston (619). In these cities, the average credit scores for high-end buildings are the lowest in the country.

Top 10 cities with the lowest credit scores for high-end buildings

City State Avg. Credit score
Mesa THE 598
Las Vegas NV 608
Houston TX 619
Sacramento THIS 635
Charlotte NC 635
Tucson THE 637
Louisville KY 639
Tampa FL 641
Tulsa Okay 641
Atlanta Georgia 645

Top 10 cities with the highest credit scores for low-end buildings

City State Avg. Credit score
San Francisco THIS 703
Seattle Washington 682
Angels THIS 675
Boston MY 675
Chicago THE 666
new York NEW 665
Washington DC 665
San jose THIS 664
San Diego THIS 638
Philadelphia cream Pennsylvania 637

Conversely, living in a competitive market like the Bay Area will require a high credit rating, even for low-end buildings. For example, with an average score of 703, tenants San Francisco could hypothetically switch from their low-end building to a high-end building in cities like Mesa, AZ, Las Vegas, Houston, Sacramento and many others where the average credit scores for high-end buildings vary between 645 and 598. The same goes for tenants in other competitive markets, such as Seattle (682), Los Angeles (675) or Boston (675) who live in lower end buildings.


This analysis was compiled by RENTCafé, a nationwide apartment search website that makes it easy for renters to find apartments and houses for rent across the United States.

Rental inquiry data is sourced from RentGrow, Inc. and has been received in a completely anonymous and aggregated manner. No personally identifiable or confidential tenant information has been disclosed or used in conjunction with this article.

The average credit score is the arithmetic average of the credit scores of all the applications analyzed for the specified period. It does not represent a minimum or maximum credit standard required to rent an apartment. Credit standards for rentals vary depending on location, local rental market, rental, and property management company. The applicant’s credit score is only one part of a larger and more comprehensive rental application process, and it is used in conjunction with several other elements to determine whether an applicant qualifies for a lease.

Credit scores are based on VantageScore’s credit score model on a scale of 300 to 850.

Generation Z is defined as the generation born between 1997 and 2012, Generation Y is defined as the generation born between 1981 and 1996, Generation X as those born between 1965 and 1980 and baby boomers as those born between 1946 and 1964 .

The 50 largest US cities are ranked by population, according to the 2019 US Census Bureau ACS 2019 5-year estimates.

Fair use and redistribution

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