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 AreaStateCredit Score
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa ClaraCA700
San Francisco-Oakland-FreemontCA696
Minneapolis-St. Paul-BloomingtonMN691
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-VenturaCA685
Portland-South Portland-BiddefordME685


Metro areas with the 10 lowest average credit scores

Metro AreaStateCredit Score
El PasoTX650
Las Vegas-ParadiseNV650
Little Rock-North Little Rock-ConwayAR651
Baton RougeLA651
Lakeland-Winter HavenFL651
Augusta-Richmond CountyGA-SC651


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.

Published on February 12, 2013