Every city has something unique to brag about, whether it’s a cultural icon such as Manhattan’s Broadway, an architectural wonder like St. Louis’ amazing arch, or a special place in history, such as Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Just as the things that make each city special vary, so does the average credit scores of the folks who live there.
A city’s average credit score might tell you a lot about its overall economy, and a little about the economic situation of the people who live there. Your home town’s average credit score doesn’t in any way lock you into a specific financial pigeonhole. Remember, an average just means where most people fill fall in a given range. Your credit score will depend on how you well you use credit, and not on where you live.
Right now, the national average credit score is around 680. So what are the cities with the best and worst credit scores? According to Experian’s second annual State of Credit list, here’s how scores shake out in American cities:
Cities with the best scores include:
1. Wausau, Wisc. – Folks in this city of about 39,000 people have an average score of 789.
2. Minneapolis, Minn. – People in Prince’s hometown tally an average score of 787.
3. Madison, Wisc. – 785 is the average score in Wisconsin’s second largest city.
4. Cedar Rapids, Iowa and San Francisco – The second largest city in Iowa straddles the Cedar River about 100 miles east of Des Moines, and has an average score of 781. Folks in the home of the Golden Gate Bridge share that average score.
5. Green Bay, Wisc. – With an average score of 780, folks in Green Bay have something to cheer about besides the Packers.
Cities with the worst credit scores include:
5. Augusta, Ga.; Bakersfield, Calif. and Las Vegas, Nev. – These three very different cities have one thing in common: an average credit score of 709.
4. Monroe and Shreveport, La. – These two Louisiana cities share an average score of 706.
3. Corpus Christi, Texas – This city of more than 400,000 people on the Gulf of Mexico has an average score of 702.
2. Jackson, Miss. – The city that hosts the home of civil rights leader Medgar Evers has an average score of 701.
1. Harlingen, Texas – Located about 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, Harlingen has the dubious distinction of the lowest average credit score: 686.
There’s good news: compared with last year’s State of Credit assessment, many cities have improved. Five out of the bottom 10 improved their scores and decreased debt since 2010.
How do you compare with your city’s average? If you’re doing better than average, good for you! If you see room for improvement, you can do a lot to improve your credit score.