List of cities and credit scores – Where do you fit in? How can you boost your score?

The credit reporting agency, Experian, recently released its 2011 findings on a comprehensive look at the average credit scores of consumers in cities across America (the average US score is 749.)

The top three cities and their scores are:

1. Wausau, Wisconsin – 789

2. Minneapolis, Minnesota – 787

3. Madison, Wisconsin – 785

The bottom three cities and their scores are:

141. Corpus Christi, Texas – 702

142. Jackson, Mississippi – 701

143. Harlingen, Texas – 686

You can see the entire list of cities, here.

How to improve your credit score

Dorothy Barrick, GreenPath Debt Solutions counselor, says there are many things that determine how your credit score is compiled. 

For example, you have to pay attention to the credit that you currently have, as well as opportunities for opening new lines of credit.  

“If you close a credit card without a balance, you are raising your debt to credit limit ratio, which lowers your credit score.
If you close your oldest card, your length of credit history becomes shorter and this lowers your score.
If you open up new cards, it signals to the lender that you may need credit cards to pay your existing bills and this, in turn, lowers your score.”

Dorothy explained if you find yourself on the lower end of the report (or even on the higher end), there are steps you can take to improve your score. They include:

Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed. Don’t open accounts for the 15% store discount or for the purpose of more spending.

Pay all your bills on time. Delinquent payments, even if only a few days late, and collections can have a major negative impact on your credit score. This applies to all your accounts, including utilities.

•If you have missed payments, get current and stay current. The longer you pay your bills on time after being late, the more your score should increase. Older credit problems count for less, so poor credit performance won’t haunt you forever.

Pay off debt rather than shifting it from one credit card to another via balance transfers. The most effective way to increase your score in this area is by paying down your total revolving (credit card) debt.

•If you have had problems in the past, re-establish your credit history by opening new accounts responsibly and paying them on time.

•Manage credit cards responsibly by keeping balances well under the credit limit – target to use no more than 50% of your available credit lines.

Don’t close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your score. Because the scoring model looks at length of credit history, it helps to have established accounts that have been open and managed well for a period of time (5+ years).

•If you have been using credit for only a short time, don’t open a lot of new accounts too quickly, as rapid account build-up can look risky to a lender.

Barrick says that a little planning and homework can help raise your score and put you in a better credit category, when you apply for future loans. 

GreenPath University as a resource

Improve your credit score

To read the entire list of ways to improve your credit score, log-on to GreenPath University, here.

Credit and loans

For an in-depth look at credit and loans, log-on to GreenPath University, here.

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