Research of the Week: Keeping Up with the Jones’ Credit Scores

Compare your credit to the best and worst credit scores across the country.

Best and worst credit scores for 2017
Click the map to view the interactive version, brought to you by WalletHub

The interesting study

WalletHub conducts an annual study of the best and worst credit scores throughout the country. They just released the list of best and worst city scores for 2017.

Congratulations, residents of The Villages, Florida! You have the highest average credit score for any city in the nation. And you beat the second place finishers in Los Altos, California by more than 20 points!

The big result

You might think that the big result would be us announcing the winner, but the real news is just how much credit scores can vary in a municipal area. And those totals don’t always follow income trends.

The fascinating details

Looking at the map, you can tell there is a mix of high a low credit scores in most concentrated urban populations. So we were curious if the differences in credit scores followed areas of affluence – i.e. do high income earners always have better credit scores?

With that in mind, we chose 5 different cities from our home state of Florida. Then we compared their credit scores and ranks to the per capita income in each city.

City Per Capita Income Avg. Credit Score Rank
Naples, FL $61,141 695.68 724
Coral Gables, FL $46,163 701.34 605
The Villages, FL $28,343 778.77 1
Orlando, FL $21,216 636.71 2270
Tallahassee, FL $18,981 661.93 1621

So the city with the highest average credit score is nowhere close to having the highest per capita income. And the two most affluent Florida cities we checked didn’t even make the Top 500 in credit scores.

“Income level has very little to do with your ability to achieve and maintain a high credit score,” explains Gary Herman, President of Consolidated Credit. “Credit scores don’t care if you’re rich or poor. If you use credit responsibly and pay your bills on time, you can have good credit even in a low-income bracket.”

 What you can do

First, we encourage you to play around with the map and the city list we linked to at the top of the post. It’s a fun diversion to see where average credit scores sit in the area where you live.

Once you’re done, ask yourself a few questions about your credit:

  1. Do you know your own credit score? If so, what is it?
  2. Have you reviewed your government-mandated free credit reports this year?

If you answered no to that last question, going to download your credit reports is a good first step. By law you can download copies free copies of your credit reports once every 12 months through annualcreditreport.com. If you go through that website, there are really no strings attached or hidden fees.

Once you have your reports, review them and look for 2 things:

  1. Are there any errors or mistakes that you can correct?
  2. How many correct negative items does your report list?

Mistakes and errors should be disputed. If the information can’t be verified by the credit bureau within 30 days, the item must be removed. This is an easy way to bump your credit score a little if mistakes drag your score down.

Once the mistakes are gone, look at how many legitimate negative items exist. These are the things in your credit that may contribute to a lower credit score. Take note of when the penalty was incurred to see when it should be removed. Most negative items disappear after seven years. In the meantime, you can offset those negative items by taking positive steps for your credit. These include making payments on time and keeping your debt low compared to your total available credit line.

For more information on how to build the best credit score possible, visit Consolidated Credit’s Comprehensive Credit Guide.