Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Cities with the worst credit scores

Midwesterners in general can be proud of their credit scores. But in the South, not so much.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 24, 2011 10:32AM

This post comes from Jeanine Skowronskiat partner site MainStreet.


MainStreet on MSN MoneyWisconsin may want to change its state motto. According to new data from Experian, the dairy state is actually the preferred home of the credit elite, with four of its cities -- Madison, Wausau, Green Bay and La Crosse -- making the credit bureau's list of American cities with the highest credit scores.


Experian finds consumers in the Midwest generally demonstrate they are good for a loan, while those in the South are still struggling to establish creditworthiness. Eight of the 10 cities with the lowest credit scores are in the Southern U.S. Four of these -- Harlingen, Corpus Christi, Tyler and El Paso -- are in Texas.


The rankings are based on scores from a random sample of consumers in Experian's database. The scores were calculated using VantageScore, which has a range of 501 to 990. (Recall, there are a number of different credit scores available to both consumers and lenders, beyond just the common 300-850 FICO credit-scoring model.)


Experian says credit scores are improving nationwide, but only slightly.


Five out of 10 of the bottom markets increased their credit scores and decreased debt since Experian analyzed them in 2010. However, average debt nationwide decreased by only about 1%, down about $200 to $24,542, indicating that those working to improve their debt-to-credit ratio, a major component of all credit scores, aren't making too much headway. Post continues after video.

"(The) data shows that we still have a long way to go toward economic prosperity, but that many consumers are taking small steps toward improving their credit and debt management," Michele Raneri, vice president of analytics for Experian, said in a press release.


According to the data, the cities with the highest credit scores are:

  1. Wausau, Wis., 789.
  2. Minneapolis, 787.
  3. Madison, Wis., 785.
  4. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 781.
  5. San Francisco, 781.
  6. Green Bay, Wis., 780.
  7. Boston, 779.
  8. Peoria, Ill., 778.
  9. Sioux Falls, S.D., 778.
  10. La Crosse, Wis., 777.

The cities with the lowest credit scores are:

  1. Harlingen, Texas, 686.
  2. Jackson, Miss., 701.
  3. Corpus Christi, Texas, 702.
  4. Monroe, La., 706.
  5. Shreveport, La., 706.
  6. Augusta, Ga., 709.
  7. Bakersfield, Calif., 709.
  8. Las Vegas, 709.
  9. Tyler, Texas, 710.
  10. El Paso, Texas, 710.

You can find the complete list of cities measured in the analysis on Experian's website.


More on MainStreet and MSN Money:

Oct 24, 2011 9:44PM
If you have a high credit score that means you are in debt and are good at paying it back. I fell into that trap had score of 800+ but lots of debt. Paid all the debt off and pay cash for everything now. My score has dropped.  Having a low score does not mean your a deadbeat.
Oct 24, 2011 8:34PM
Screw credit scores. They are meaningless. Are you really interested in buying ever depreciating property right now? We have not reached the bottom. To the minorities claiming whites have the advantage. I call bulls@#!. I'm pretty white. I used to be a 720 (built it up from a 580). I could get any credit card I wanted. I could get any auto loan I wanted. Guess what? I lost 75% of the equity in my home (gave it back). I had two back surgeries in one year (lost my income for that year). Then, my company downsized (bye bye job). I am as white as it gets and I couldn't get a credit card to save my life. But, I have no need for a credit card. Haven't used one since 2008. The banksters can go to hell. I'm not losing anymore equity because I'm renting a bigger, nicer, house for less than the one I "owned".  As Ramsey says cash is king. His credit score is 0. Save up and buy a used car. Save up and buy a tv. Save up and the stuff you buy will yours. If you are making payments on something, it is not yours. How does buying a $1000 tv with a revolving apr of 24%, while only making the minimum monthly payment make any sense to a consumer? It doesn't. You all just think you really, really, need that tv.
Oct 24, 2011 8:37PM
Credit is over rated when the banks refuse to lend.
Oct 24, 2011 9:25PM
Experian and Credit Agencies are financial terrorists. Never mess with them.
Nov 4, 2011 5:28PM
SO first

You people do know credit score is NOT a product of how good you pay your bills?  It is a calculation of basically how much money you can keep as principal and paying interest to the banks on.  My credit score is under 550.  I have not posessed a credit card for 20-years.  I pay everything in cash.  I own multiple houses and have no reason to loan or borrow from anyone.

Credit Score is not a reference to how financial worthy you are.  It is a reference of how easy it is for the banks to pilfer your pockets.

Now a list of average debt would be the real indicator I would like to see.

Oct 24, 2011 7:36PM

I love how the American people are so quick to butcher each other.  How about the credit card companies that have taken millions to the cleaners because people don't know better?  This is true in both the North & the South.  I have lived in both areas in my life and I find more and more uneducated people when it comes to debt and finances.  These credit card companies hit you hard when you're young.  Usually with sign up tables at universities.  Our education system is great when it comes to teaching you how to read and write, or add and multiply.  However, how many high schools teach students how to balance a checkbook or the consequences of maxing out a credit card?  I have never heard of any.  Also - if you notice, bad credit scores follow the highest poverty stricken areas.   If you know of someone needing good financial principles - Dave Ramsey is the way to go!!!

Oct 24, 2011 2:04PM
Washington DC needs to be the number 1 city!! With all they've done!! 
Oct 24, 2011 8:40PM
ODog, there are no parties. They use the Democrat/Republican thing to divide and conquer. They love it when we fight over nothing. Its really us and them. If you think the intelligent brother doesn't like war then you are not paying attention. If u think W. didn't like to spend money then you are not paying attention. We are all watching the continuity of government in action. Do you think the intelligent brother would choose Biden for a running mate? He was assigned Biden. C'mon man.
Oct 24, 2011 3:59PM

REALLY.....??? Saddle up Wausau Wis. with the same number of illegal immigrants that Harlingen Texas has to manage and let's see how high their score goes. Businesses have been dolling out credit to any illegal with a construction job for the last 10 years and NOW they wonder what happened? That same mexican that ran up his Visa card to the max is driving his brand new Silverado pick up he just financed back to Tijuana.

Adios, suckers.....!

Oct 24, 2011 3:19PM
El Paso and Corpus Christi have very bad illegal immigration problems.  These stats have a lot of bias and they need to publish the underlying factors contributing to this data.  
Nov 4, 2011 7:01PM
The Fosz wrote:

If you have a bad credit score, and your poor, and uneducated and need a Master to provide you with direction, vote Republican. They'll keep you that way. Right where they want you. After all if your uneducated your not going anywhere.

You are apparently among the uneducated that you speak of. I mean anybody can make a type-o doing a post, but you misspelled you're 3 times in 3 sentences. You're is actually 2 words you know and is combined into one word. It's called a contraction. Your is a possessive adjective, that shows possession. You do not have to have a masters degree to know that.

Did you finish the 4th grade? Do you really think anyone is going to value your opinion when you cannot even spell at an elementary school level? Maybe if you cared enough to educate yourself just a little then you would have a better job. If you don't care any more than that, why would anyone want to hire you?
Oct 25, 2011 12:05AM
There are so many factors that go into a neighborhood, city, county or state's overall credit rating.  I'd like to see the credit ratings correlated with median income, the unemployment rate, average educational level and percent of residents living in poverty. Many of the poorer parts of the country also have the least amount of opportunity and few resources for education and job training. Implying that it is a racial issue shows a narrow world view and a closed mind.
Oct 24, 2011 1:53PM
Who would have guessed that the alcohol and gambling mecca of Las Vegas would have one of  the lowest credit scores?  You still cannot get a job in Las Vegas but you can place a bet and get a free drink anytime day or night.  It is like an amusement park for adults.
Oct 24, 2011 2:10PM

i would love to have a credit score of 686. last time i checked, i'm pretty sure it was in the negatives.

Nov 4, 2011 6:52PM

The level of baseless blaming Red States or Republicans on credit scores is astounding.

People are quick to blame and long to check out other statistics.  There is a much, much larger population of hispanics in the south.  They are typically low wage earners, and shockingly, they vote Dem.  I bet if you did a real study of credit worthiness to political leaning, you'd have a different picture, probably a more even split.

But I guess you can't explain why Wisconsin is at the top of the list, and they voted in a Republican Gov and House.

Oct 24, 2011 5:23PM

It's not a Credit Score. It's a Debt Score. It doesn't have anything to do with the Governor. It has to do with personal responsiblity. If you can't pay cash don't buy it. When you borrow you are spending money you haven't even made yet. What happens if you loose your job ?

Or like Student Loans and don't get that job you wanted. Maybe you can't drive a brand new car. Maybe the nice new house is just not in your budget yet. Maybe eating out isn't dinner, and planning and cooking are. This is America. It's on you not the collective.

Oct 24, 2011 2:02PM
What happens if you don't abuse credit and you pay cash or you don't buy foolish junk unnecessary stuff for your house or yourself???, You are condemned to credit death by the so-called guru's of the credit world, I don't know how appointed them the gods of credit except themselves but that's what we have to live with until congress passes a law stating proof of reporting by the bureaus and by the people reporting to the bureaus, The business reporting credit should have to prove NOT JUST SAY you owe me for this !!! PROVE IT or shut up!. I was raised to pay everything off and DON'T barrow except for house and vehicle and things you can payoff within a 6-12 mo. time period, I don't beleave in credit cards they are a bad thing for america and for people (great for banks). This is what it got me for a score 0- nada- lack of credit, That is not the truth on how I pay my bills, When you don't have bills why don't they take your utility bills your rent (or house payment) into consideration thats more important than anything else but that don't count, and thats why credit reporting smells real bad!! I had to go out and buy a car to get a rating and wait almost 6-8 mo. to get a rating and still they report a lack of credit! I have a score but why the word lack of credit that still is on my report?, WAKE UP POLITICIANS and PROTECT YOUR CITIZENS!!!!!. When I applied for a housing loan I applied at ONE place and I had 12 inquirers on my report and their again thats on the report as to many inquirer's. Is this away for banks to refuse you in the event they DON"T LIKE YOUR COLOR of your skin or YOUR AGE OR THE LOCATION of the house you want to buy? (all of these are against the law) But this is how they get away with DISCRIMINATION!!!!!!Devil
Oct 24, 2011 8:28PM
I've read some of these comments and once again people only read the bits and pieces. How did this become a racial or political issue. It only states which areas have the highest and lowest credit scores and when you look at the numbers the margin is not that much. Again these stories only  give you part of the story and most will run with it. No where in the article does it state how they've come up with this average. If you dont have a lot of credit of course its going to give you a lower score and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Read the articles for what's it for and try not to add more into it than it really is.
Nov 4, 2011 4:48PM
What ever they are teaching in Wisc. needs to be taught in every state!!!!!!!!!!!!
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.