10 American cities with the best credit scores

Earning a high credit score can open doors -- literally.

Americans with good or excellent credit scores have an easier time qualifying for mortgages, renting apartments and finding lower interest rates for all types of loans.

Credit scores between 690 to about 720 are considered good, while people with scores above 720 to the maximum of 850 are viewed as excellent borrowers. While individuals receive their own credit scores based on their history with handling debt, certain types of credit scores tend to cluster by ZIP codes, according to recent research by Credit Sesame.

That often correlates with income, said Stew Langille, chief strategy officer at Credit Sesame. Residents in towns with lower median household incomes tend to suffer from lower credit scores, which can make borrowing more expensive for them. The flip side of the coin are higher-income towns, where Credit Sesame found residents have correspondingly higher credit scores.

There's another link, as well: education, Langille said.

"Areas that have higher education levels as well as higher income levels have higher credit scores," Langille said. "Those with post-doc educations tend to be more responsible and more aware of credit. There's a very high correlation with education level and credit score."

Of course, higher education and income are also linked, in that college graduates generally earn much heftier incomes than those with only high school educations.

The American towns with the highest credit scores tend to be clustered in California, which claimed six slots on the list.

Read on to learn more about the cities whose residents have the nation's highest credit scores.

10. San Mateo, California: 708

This city of about 100,000 residents isn't as well known as nearby San Francisco, but its residents have a golden reputation when it comes to credit.

The median household income in the city stands at $83,850, or well above the national median of $53,046, according to Census data.

Like many cities in the Bay Area, technology companies are major employers, and those based in San Mateo include GoPro (GPRO) and gaming company Roblox. While tech jobs at those companies can pay six-figure salaries, it's still a stretch for some to buy housing in the city, given the median home value is $1.07 million.

9. San Ramon, California: 709

The median household income in San Ramon -- a suburb of San Francisco -- stands at more than $127,000, or more than twice the national median household income.

With only 3.8 percent of the city living below the poverty line, San Ramon boasts a poverty rate that's just one-quarter of the state's.

Employers such as Chevron (CVX) and GE Global Research (GE) are luring educated professionals to the city, where the median house costs more than $922,000, according to Zillow.

8. Davis, California: 710

Davis is best known as the home to University of California, Davis, which employs more than 28,000 workers. While the median household income is $60,114, or lower than many of the other cities on this list, the residents of Davis may make up for that with their education levels.

About 13.5 percent of Davis' residents hold doctorate degrees, making it the U.S. city with the second-highest percentage of PhDs, following Brookline, Massachusetts.

Despite the lower median household income in Davis, housing prices are on par with some other cities on this list. The median home value is almost $590,000, Zillow says.

7. Arlington, Virginia: 714

This suburb of Washington, D.C., is located in Arlington County, which enjoys median household income of more than $103,000.

Many federal departments and agencies are located in the county, including the Pentagon and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. It also has the higher percentage of residents with a college degree or post-graduate degrees in the Washington, D.C., area.

The median home value in the city is $610,800, according to Zillow.

6. Redmond, Washington: 715

Known to many as the home of Microsoft (MSFT), this Seattle suburb's median household income stands at roughly $96,000.

While Microsoft remains the city's biggest employer, others include Nintendo and equipment manufacturer Terex (TEX). The median home value in Redmond is $614,500, which makes the city slightly more affordable than some tech-based California towns.

5. Bellevue, Washington: 716

The biggest suburb of Seattle has been ranked as one of the best places to live in America. But getting a foothold will take a good credit and a healthy salary, given that the median home value is almost $660,000, according to Zillow.

Bellevue, home to companies including travel site Expedia (EXPE) and retailer Eddie Bauer, has a median household income of about $90,000.

4. Sunnyvale, California: 719

Sunnyvalue, with a median household income of $100,000, may be best known as home to tech giants such as Yahoo (YHOO) and LinkedIn (LNKD).

And with those tech companies hiring engineers and programmers at high salaries, it's pushing real estate prices into dizzying heights. The median home value stands at almost $1.4 million.

3. Cambridge, Massachusetts: 725

The home of Harvard and MIT has median household income of slightly more than $72,000. While that's lower than many of the other cities on the list, Cambridge benefits from its high number of educated citizens. Almost 12 percent of its residents have PhDs.

Buying a home in the city won't cost as much as some other towns on the list, given that the median home value is $636,200, according to Zillow.

2. Mountain View, California: 741

There's a good news, bad news situation in Mountain View. Jobs may be plentiful and the pay high (as long as you're an engineer or software developer), but housing is reaching the stratosphere.

The home of Google (GOOGL) and Intuit (INTU) boasts median income of more than $97,000, but the median home value stands at $1.4 million. That's prompting some professionals to double up with roommates, even those making solid salaries at tech firms.

1. Cupertino, California: 742

The American city whose residents have earned the highest overall credit score may be best known as the home of Apple (AAPL) and other tech companies such as Trend Micro and Seagate Technology (STX).

The city's median income stands at almost $130,000, but even that won't help much when buying a home, given that the median home value stands at $1.8 million.