Key findings recently released from Experian®’s sixth annual State of Credit study, which provides national insights, ranks top and bottom cities, and introduces a new element, of political preference of ranked cities, show that the national credit score increased by three points over the last year (and by five points since 2013). The 10 cities with the highest credit scores in the nation increased their scores by an average of 1.8 points, according to the study. Additionally, bankcards, retail cards and mortgage lending showed significant growth, making this year’s study an indicator of the nation’s confidence in the credit market.
“If I were to give a grade to the overall picture of credit in the United States, I would give it an A minus. I’m optimistic about the state of credit as we are seeing more loans being extended, late payments are decreasing and consumers are continuing to gain more confidence in originating loans,” said Michele Raneri, vice president of analytics and new business development, Experian. “There definitely is growth and momentum — we’re back to prerecession levels in nearly every category, which means lenders are in a prime position to capitalize on this market and foster business growth.”
Detailed study highlights include the following changes over the last year:
- The national VantageScore® credit score is up by three points, from 666 to 669.
- Bankcard lending continues to increase, with new bankcards up 7.7 percent.
- The average number of bankcards per consumer is up 2.8 percent to 2.24 cards.
- Retail card lending also is on the rise, with a 10.8 percent increase in new originations.
- The average number of retail cards per consumer is up 0.3 percent to 1.55 cards from last year and up by 7 percent since 2013.
- Instances of late payments (includes bankcard and retail) decreased by 4.4 percent over the last year and by 17.3 percent since the height of the recession in 2010.
- Average debt is up 2.1 percent to $29,093 per consumer.
- Mortgage originations increased by 42.5 percent.
This study also provides an in-depth look at more than 100 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) across the country and compares average credit scores to see how these cities are faring. As in previous years, Minnesota continues to top the charts with three of its cities — Mankato, Rochester and Minneapolis — leading with credit scores of 706, 705 and 704, respectively. Two cities have moved out of the bottom 10: Bakersfield, Calif., and Columbus, Miss. While still at the bottom of the list with a score of 612, Greenwood, Miss., residents did improve their score by three points, more than any other city in the bottom 10.
With an election year upon us, this year’s report also provides insight into how residents of these top and bottom MSAs identify politically. The study found that half of the highest-scoring cities have residents whose views skew more middle of the road, while residents of lower-scoring cities are more likely to lean conservative. The full lists of the top 10 and bottom 10 cities are featured below (scores are rounded to the nearest whole number).
Other key highlights about the top and bottom cities:
- Every city in the top 10 increased its average debt, with Rochester, Minn., increasing the most by 5 percent since 2014.
- Mankato, Minn., with its credit score of 706, is the highest in the country and is 37 points higher than the U.S. average of 669.
- All the top 10 cities have revolving utilization lower than 26 percent.
- Of the top 10 cities, Sioux Falls, S.D., had the largest credit score increase (39 percent).
- Shreveport, La., and Monroe, La., are new to the bottom 10 this year.
- Every city in the bottom 10 improved its score over the last year, with the exception of Monroe, La., which remained the same.
- All the cities in the bottom 10 increased their utilization over the last year.
“Knowing where you stand from a credit perspective is critical to improving or maintaining your financial well-being. Everyone should understand the value of having positive credit references,” said Rod Griffin, Experian’s director of public education. “Reports like this one provide an avenue to build awareness and help consumers across the nation think about how they can make positive changes in how they manage credit.”
For a more complete look at the above cities as well as the other MSAs studied, visit www.livecreditsmart.com to view a fully interactive map and infographic.