Last Updated Apr 26, 2011 9:10 PM EDT
Check out which cities have the lowest credit scores.
Do you live in a city with the highest credit scores in America? And if you do, does it matter when you go to get a loan?
Experian, one of the three major credit reporting bureaus, released a new feature called LiveCreditSmart.com. (You can also get to it under the "Credit Education" button on the company's main website.) The site lists the U.S. cities with the highest and lowest credit scores. The scores are based on the Vantage credit scoring model, which runs from about 500 to 990. Vantage credit scores from 900 to 990 are top credit scores, or Grade A. Scores from 800 to 899 are Grade B. Credit scores from 700 to 799 are Grade C, and so on.
Not that many consumers are familiar with the Vantage credit scoring model. Most are more familiar with the credit score scale created by Fair Isaac Corporation (called a FICO score), range from 300 to 850. According to Credit Karma, in August, 2010 the average American's credit score was 667. But this is not a FICO score.
[One big problem with trying to compare credit scores is that the Fair Isaac, Credit Karma, Vantage credit scores are all built on different models, according to Craig Watts, public affairs director for Fair Issac. The vast majority of lenders use the FICO score, so for most consumers, these other scores may not matter much.]
According to FICO's credit blog, about 18 percent of the population has a FICO credit score between 800 to 850, but the highest credit score I've heard of is 830 (feel free to post yours below). A little over 25 percent of the population has a credit score below 600.
If your credit score is above 720, you will probably still receive the best interest rates (a score above 780 is welcomed with open arms these days by lenders) and it boosts your chances of being able to get loans.
Experian used the Vantage credit scoring model to chart the highest and lowest credit scores in the country. No city in the country has an average score over 800. The top cities that are in the upper 700s, would translate into a credit score of about C+.
Cities With The Highest (Average) Credit Scores:
- Minneapolis, MN â€" 787
- Madison, WI â€" 785
- Cedar Rapids, IA â€" 781
- Green Bay, WI â€" 780
- San Francisco, CA â€" 780
Don't pack your bags and head to Minnesota yet though, living in the city won't boost your credit score, that takes time and hard work (plus it's going to snow up there soon).
Here are three easy things you can do to raise your credit score right now:
- Pay your bills. The easiest way to raise your credit score is to pay all of your bills, in full, on time, every month. Never carrying a balance if you can help it.
- Check your credit report for errors. Fraudulent activity on your accounts can bring down your credit score, and no one is going to tell you about it. It's your responsibility to check your credit report for any inaccuracies. You're entitled to a free credit report once a year from each of the three credit reporting bureaus-Experian, Equifax and TransUnion-at AnnualCreditReport.com. That means you get three FREE reports each year. Be sure to use them
- Don't open new credit cards. You're lining up to buy a couple hundred dollars worth of merchandise from your favorite chain store and they offer you 20 percent off your purchase if you open a credit card. Don't do it! The immediate benefit of 20 percent off is generally not worth the negative effect those extra cards cause on your credit score. (My own credit score got hit when I tried this, although it has now bounced back.)
(Be sure to check out LiveCreditSmart.com to see how your city and state measure up.)
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Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at ThinkGlink.com and The Equifax Personal Finance Blog, and is Chief Content Strategist at RealtyJoin.com, a community for real estate investors.