Experian Credit Score Study Reveals What Cities Score Best, and Worst

Experian, one of the three major credit reporting agencies, conducted their second- annual State of Credit list of cities with the highest and lowest credit scores.  The data from this report was based upon data from January through June 2011 and used the VantageScore.  The VantageScore was developed jointly by the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The scores range from 501 to 990, a score in the 700 range is considered average or a “C”; a score is the 600’s is considered a “D”.   The average VantageScore before the recession was 754, was 748 in 2010 and was 749 in 2011.  There was a one-point gain in 2011.

Top ten cities

Eight of the top ten cities with the highest scores were from the Midwest.  Wausau, Wisconsin had the highest score of 787, which surpassed Minneapolis, Minnesota, which had held this spot for four years. All but San Francisco, California had unemployment rates below the national average.

Cities with the highest VantageScores:

  1. Wausau, Wis.: 789
  2. Minneapolis, Minn.: 787
  3. Madison, Wis.: 785
  4. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: 781
  5. San Francisco, Calif.: 781
  6. Green Bay, Wis.: 780
  7. Boston, Mass.: 779
  8. Peoria, Ill.: 778
  9. Sioux Falls, S.D.: 778
  10. La Crosse, Wis.: 777

Bottom ten cities

Eight of ten cities with the lowest scores were from the south with four of them in Texas.  Harlingen, Texas had the lowest score of 686.

Cities with the lowest VantageScores:

  1. Harlingen, Texas: 686
  2. Jackson, Miss.: 701
  3. Corpus Christi, Texas: 702
  4. Monroe, La.: 706
  5. Shreveport, La.: 706
  6. Augusta, Ga.: 709
  7. Bakersfield, Calif.: 709
  8. Las Vegas, Nev.: 709
  9. Tyler, Texas: 710
  10. El Paso, Texas: 710

According to Experian, “Compared with last year’s State of Credit assessment, many cities have improved, albeit by slim margins. Five out of 10 of the bottom markets have increased their credit scores and decreased debt since 2010. However, average debt nationwide has only decreased by about 1 percent — it is down about $200 to $24,542— indicating that those working to improve their debt-to-credit ratio are having difficulty making progress. A low debt-to-credit ratio is an important element of a high credit score.”

“We’ve all heard the latest news — bankruptcy rates are up, mortgage delinquencies are rising and people are still losing their homes,” said Michele Raneri, Experian vice president of analytics. “Experian’s State of Credit data shows that we still have a long way to go toward economic prosperity but that many consumers are taking small steps toward improving their credit and debt management.”

Credit Expert, John Ulzheimer, is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry.  Follow him on Twitter here.

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