The nation's highest credit scores are clustered in metropolitan areas along the Pacific Coast, followed by New England and the upper Midwest, according to a recent report from the credit reporting agency TransUnion.

The areas with the worst average credit, on the other hand, are almost invariably found in the South, according to the same report.

The residents of the San Jose, Calif. metropolitan area, including the neighboring communities of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, bear the distinction of having the nation's highest credit scores, according to TransUnion. The San Francisco/Oakland metropolitan area stands a close second.

West is the best

Five of the 10 metropolitan areas with the nation's best average credit scores are on the Pacific Ocean, including Honolulu. Meanwhile, all but one of the 10 metros with the lowest credit scores are found in states of the old Confederacy, with Memphis, Tenn. at the bottom of the list.

That's not to say that anyone has room to brag. Even for San Jose, the average credit score comes in at the very top of the category rated as "non-prime," with a letter grade of "D" on the old classroom scale of A-F.

Here are the highest and lowest scoring metro areas and their respective credit scores. Scores are based on the VantageScore system, rather than the more commonly used FICO credit scoring system.

Metro areas with the 10 highest average credit scores (VantageScore system)

Metro Area State Credit Score
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara CA 700
San Francisco-Oakland-Freemont CA 696
Madison WI 694
Honolulu HI 693
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN 691
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk CT 690
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH 689
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura CA 685
Portland-South Portland-Biddeford ME 685
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue WA 685


Metro areas with the 10 lowest average credit scores

Metro Area State Credit Score
Memphis TN-MS-AR 638
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission TX 639
Jackson MS 642
El Paso TX 650
Columbia SC 650
Las Vegas-Paradise NV 650
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway AR 651
Baton Rouge LA 651
Lakeland-Winter Haven FL 651
Augusta-Richmond County GA-SC 651


The study looked at credit scores in 100 major U.S. metropolitan areas.

The VantageScore system is based on a scale of 501-990, whereas the more commonly used FICO system uses a scale of 300-850. So while a 700 is a good score under FICO, it leaves a lot to be desired under VantageScore. Under VantageScore, any score from 601-700 is rated D, or Nonprime, while the top "A" rating requires a score of 901-990.