Boston, MA Rental Market Renting San Francisco, CA Tips & Tricks for Renters

What Credit Score Do You Need to Rent an Apartment? Insanely High, If You’re in Boston or San Francisco

What credit score do you need to get an apartment - RentCafe Boston apartments for rent

Rental applicants approved for an apartment in 2017 had an average credit score of 650, is the conclusion of our most recent study based on tenant screening data from RentGrow. Meanwhile, those that ended up on the rejected list had an average score of 538. Rental applications submitted nationwide show that the average credit scores of those approved for an apartment lease is on the increase, up 12 points from 638 in 2014.

If you think the credit standards for renting are a bit harsh, try to get into a high-end building. The average credit score of tenants accepted in a Class A (high-end) building in 2017 is 683. Lower credit scores are accepted in lower class buildings. In Class B (mid-level) buildings, a score of 647 is typical, while in Class C and D (low-end) buildings 624 is the average.

How credit requirements vary depending on where you live

Applying for rent in Boston? You will need stellar credit. The average credit score of applicants who are approved for rent in Boston is 737, the highest score in the 50 largest U.S. cities. Boston is the third most expensive city for renters in the country, with an average monthly rent of around $3,200, according to Yardi Matrix.

You’ll also want to get your credit in tip-top shape to rent in San Francisco. The average credit score of those approved for an apartment in the city by the bay in 2017 is 724, second highest in the country. San Francisco is the second most expensive rental market in the country, with the average rent rate above $3,400, up 38% from 5 years prior.

Top 10 Cities with the Highest Approved Average Credit Scores for Renting in 2017

#CityAvg. Credit ScoreAvg. Rent5-Year Rent Increase
1Boston, MA737$3,23225.3%
2San Francisco, CA724$3,44038.0%
3Seattle, WA711$2,016
3Minneapolis, MN711$1,471
5Oakland, CA707$2,520
6Philadelphia, PA702
7Los Angeles, CA691$2,289
8Portland, OR690
8Chicago, IL690
10Nashville, TN686

Those renting in a hot rental market like Seattle, WA also have a high average credit score of 711. Seattle rent prices have increased as much as 52% in the last 5 years and have topped $2,000/month. With numbers like these, the connection between demand for rental housing and credit standards for renters is hard to ignore.

Maybe we expected insanely expensive cities to have insanely high credit standards. But it’s a bit unexpected to find Minneapolis, MN sharing the third spot on this list with Seattle. With an average rent approaching $1,500/month, Minneapolis apartments were rented to applicants who had an average credit score of 711, a sign that this Midwestern market is becoming more competitive. Rents in the twin city jumped almost 30% over the past 5 years.

No. 5 Oakland, CA is another example. Rents jumped almost 53% in 5 years in this Bay Area town, turning it into one of the most expensive and competitive rental markets in the U.S. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that renters in Oakland who got their name on a lease had an average credit score above 700.

No. 6 is Philadelphia, PA, where renters who were approved for a lease in 2017 had an average score in the 700’s.

Nashville, TN wraps up the top 10, with an average score of 686. The apartment market in Music City has exploded in the last 5 years, posting a 49% rent growth.

What about the most expensive rental market in the U.S., New York? Those who applied for and were accepted to rent an abode in America’s “melting pot” in 2017 had a very “average” average score of 654.

Where can rental applicants get by with a low credit score?

Sin City is in 50th place. The average score of applicants who are approved for an apartment in Las Vegas is as low as 590. Next up are renters in Memphis, TN, with a credit score of 592, on average. Milwaukee, WI, Mesa, AZ and Arlington, TX are also at the bottom of the list. Check out the complete city table below.

Renters’ credit scores by generation: Baby Boomers ahead of the rest

Looking at renters by generation, Baby Boomer renters are in the best credit shape, with the highest accepted average score — 683. Millennial renters’ credit is much lower — 650, about the same as Generation X renters, who have an accepted average credit score of 649, while Generation Z applicants, the youngest of them all, were accepted with an average credit score of 623. The average scores of those who were rejected were also highest for Baby Boomers (560), but lowest for Millennials applicants (530).

The strong correlation between your credit score and your chance of approval

When reviewing rental applications, landlords and property managers look at your overall credit history, including whether you make payments on time, have accounts in default or collections, your rental history and other factors that go into the credit score formula. The sum of these things can weigh more in the approval process than the credit score by itself.

However, our recent story about application approval rates showed that a positive correlation between credit scores and a prospective tenant’s chances of getting approved does exist, precisely because your credit score is a reflection of your overall credit history. By our calculations, there is a very strong 0.96 correlation coefficient (where a 1.0 coefficient represents the strongest correlation) between credit scores and approval rates, as illustrated in the graph below:

credit score for renting

2017 Rental Applicants’ Average Credit Scores by City

San FranciscoCA724611
Los AngelesCA691612
San DiegoCA677558
Long BeachCA660565
New YorkNY654552
Fort WorthTX654536
Colorado SpringsCO651536
Kansas CityMO648528
Virginia BeachVA638541
El PasoTX633538
Oklahoma CityOK625525
San AntonioTX613526
New OrleansLA613537
Las VegasNV590524



This analysis was compiled by RENTCafe using data from RentGrow, an online tenant screening system featuring comprehensive reports, reliable data and automated recommendations for property owners and managers. Screening data used in this study is from rental applications submitted between January 2014 and June 2017 nationwide. Credit scores are based on the VantageScore credit score model using a scale of 300-850. 

The accepted average credit score is the arithmetic average of the credit scores on all approved rental applications analyzed for the time period specified. The same was done to calculate the average credit score of applicants who were rejected. The average credit scores used in this study do not represent a minimum or maximum credit standard required to rent an apartment. Credit score standards for renting vary depending on location, the local rental market, rental property, and property management company. The applicant’s credit score is just one element as part of a larger, comprehensive rental application process, and it is used in conjunction with several other elements to determine whether an applicant is eligible for a lease. 

Rent data is provided by our sister company Yardi Matrix and it is current as of September 2017.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the images in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology. For more in-depth, customized data, please contact us at

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About the author

Nadia Balint

Nadia Balint is a senior creative writer for RENTCafé. She covers news and trends in residential and commercial real estate and their impact on our everyday life, including rental housing, for-sale housing, real estate development, homeownership, market reports, insurance, landlord-tenant laws, personal finance, urban development, economy, sustainability, and social issues. Nadia holds a B.S. in Business Management from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. You can connect with Nadia via email.


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