Does it matter where you live? Average credit scores by state.

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When anticipating the differences in average credit score, there are many factors we may consider – income levels, age, and the amount of debt they hold the three big ones. But there’s another surprising factor that correlates with credit scores – where you live. In fact, the disparities between credit scores from state to state are startling. FICO reports the average credit score in the U.S. is 681 and the national average Experian Vantage score is about 750, but there’s a huge differential between states – up to 60-100 points, something we wouldn’t necessarily suspect. Of course there are wealthy and poorer people everywhere, so why are the credit score discrepancies from state to state so large? There are many possible reasons for this – different levels of education, debt, the health of regional economies, and different financial cultures. 

First, lets look at Vantage and Transunion’s scoring data to determine the trends by state. This is data based on Transunion’s Trans Risk model, which, like FICO, it runs on a 300 to 850 scale.

States with the highest average credit score:

1. Wisconsin - 681
2. Hawaii - 681
3. Massachusetts - 677
4. New Jersey - 676
5. Minnesota - 674
6. Washington - 671
7. Connecticut - 671
8. New York - 669
9. Vermont - 668
10. Colorado - 664

States with the lowest average credit score:

50. Mississippi - 618
49. Louisiana - 625
48. Arkansas - 628
47. Alabama - 629
46. South Carolina - 629
45. Kentucky - 632
44. West Virginia - 633
43. Nevada - 638
42. South Carolina - 639
41. Texas - 639

States with the highest average Vantage scores:

1. Wisconsin - 724
2. Minnesota - 713
3. North Dakota - 708
4. South Dakota - 707
5. New Jersey - 703
6. Nebraska - 702
7. Iowa -701
8. Montana- 700
9. Massachusetts - 698
10. Hawaii - 698

States with the lowest average Vantage scores:

50. Mississippi - 646
49. Louisiana - 654
48. Nevada - 655
47. Georgia - 656
46. California - 658
45. Texas - 658
44. South Carolina - 660
43. Alabama - 661
42. Oklahoma - 663
41. New Mexico - 657

Cities with the best average Vantage scores:

Rochester, Minn. — 716
Mankato, Minn. — 716
Sioux Falls, S.D. — 713
Minneapolis, Minn. — 713
Green Bay, Wis. — 713
Wausau, Wis. — 711
Madison, Wis. –  711
Fargo, N.D. — 711
Cedar Rapids, Iowa — 711
La Crosse, Minn. — 710

Cities with the worst average Vantage scores:

Greenwood, Miss. –  622
Albany, Ga. — 632
Riverside, Calif. — 638
Harlingen, Texas — 640
Laredo, Texas –  641
Jackson, Miss. — 644
Corpus Christi, Texas — 647
Las Vegas, Nev. — 647
Monroe, La. — 648
Shreveport, La. — 648

Let's look at FICO's map of median credit scores by every state:

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What can we extrapolate from this data? The majority of states with the highest averages are congregated in the Midwest and North East. While almost the entire South is in the red or purple – with the lowest average scores of 653-711. In fact, the southern states do not have a state in the blue or green, where the highest average scores range from 723-745. Except for Nevada, there isn’t one state north of Oklahoma or New Mexico in the red, the lowest bracket with 653-691. While out of the states with the highest credit scores – shown in the green – all are north of Nebraska.

Additonally, eight of the 10 cities with the highest average VantageScores in 2012 were in the Midwest. And eight of the 10 cities with the lowest average VantageScores in 2012 were in the South.

There is a general correlation with income levels, though it’s not so direct that we can conclude wealth is the only factor in average credit scores by state. In fact, out of the states with the lowest average credit scores, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, New Mexico, and Alabama are also on the list of 10-lowest income states. But New Jersey, Massachusetts, Hawaii are the only states on the list for wealthiest and best credit scores.
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