Credit Score Shangri-La

The 10 cities with the best credit scores in the nation.


For those who like to know exactly how they stack up against their neighbors, a new State of Credit study by the credit scoring experts at Experian is right up your alley. That’s because this year’s study – the sixth of its kind – ranks the top and bottom cities in the nation by credit score.

In general, the study reveals the average national consumer credit score in the U.S. has increased by three points in the last year and by five points since 2013. In other words, overall consumers in the U.S. are taking steps to build better credit and are showing significant credit stability in this post-recession era. Better credit scores typically result in more consumer confidence, increased borrowing and improvement in key financial markets, such as real estate.

Michele Raneri, Experian’s vice president of analytics and new business development explains, “If I were to give a grade to the overall picture of credit in the United States, I would give it an A minus. I’m optimistic about the status of credit as we are seeing more loans being extended, late payments are decreasing and consumers are continuing to gain more confidence in originating loans.”

Ranking the best (and the worst) by credit score

Interestingly, all of the top ten cities for credit score are in the mid-northwest / Great Lakes area. The following ranks are determined by average VantageScore:

  1. Mankato, Minnesota = 706
  2. Rochester, Minnesota = 705
  3. Minneapolis, Minnesota = 704
  4. Fargo, North Dakota = 701
  5. Wausau, Wisconsin = 701
  6. Duluth, Minnesota = 701
  7. Sioux Falls, South Dakota = 700
  8. Green Bay, Wisconsin = 700
  9. La Crosse, Wisconsin = 699
  10. Cedar Rapids, Iowa = 699

As a whole, data trends often show residents in the mid-northwest and states like Minnesota tend to manage debt effectively. So while they have debt levels on par with national averages, they tend to have lower rates of delinquencies and default.

By contrast, with the exception of one city in California and another in Nevada, the ten worst cities for credit score are found in the southern United States:

  1. Greenwood, Mississippi = 612
  2. Albany, Georgia = 622
  3. Riverside, California = 624
  4. Harlingen, Texas = 628
  5. Laredo, Texas = 633
  6. Monroe, Louisiana = 635
  7. Jackson, Mississippi = 635
  8. Alexandria, Louisiana = 636
  9. Las Vegas, Nevada = 636
  10. Shreveport, Louisiana = 637

This data is fairly consistent with the experience Consolidated Credit’s clients have when it comes to debt. For instance, Texas is one of the most active states for consumers seeking credit counseling services. In fact, data shows when Texans struggle with debt, it’s often credit cards that are the source of the problem.

“States with low credit scores also tend to have the most problems with credit card debt,” explains Consolidated Credit President Gary Herman. “Unsecured debt with revolving payments that change based on how much you charge is a prime candidate for causing debt problems that lead to a low credit score.”

Basically, as unsecured debt, credit cards tend to get prioritized last when money gets tight and you start juggling bills. Late credit card payments are often the vanguards of real financial distress that’s on its way.

Finding solutions before bad credit strikes

Herman encourages anyone who is finding their money tight and their budget limited to seek immediate help.

“Don’t wait to start falling behind and missing payments before you find a solution to a debt problem,” he encourages. “Waiting opens the door for credit score damage that might be avoided if you’d found a solution to the challenges you face with debt earlier. It’s also often the case that you have more options available for debt relief if you start looking for solutions before your financial struggles start to take a toll on your credit score.”