Finding causation for your credit score is not that simple, a new CreditCards.com report has found.
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The company calculated “expected” average credit scores for the 25 largest metropolitan regions in the U.S. after analyzing data on income, age, unemployment and education. Turns out the actual average credit scores for these areas were surprising.
Los Angeles came out on top of the list when comparing expected vs. actual credit scores, yet its median household income ranks 12th out of the 25 regions analyzed. Not to mention, it has the lowest rate of high school graduates at 79%.
The two lowest ranking metros, meanwhile – Baltimore and Washington, D.C. – have high median incomes and educational attainment levels.
“The thing that the cities at the bottom of our list had in common was that they had high utilization rates [percentage of debt compared to available credit],” Schulz says.
On the flip side, Minneapolis, which ranked second-highest on the money management list, has one of the lowest utilization rates.
“Even though they may have a higher credit card balance, they’ve been able to manage that debt pretty well because they’re apparently nowhere near maxing out their credit cards. That’s an important thing to keep in mind,” Schulz says.
Money Management Rankings: Top 5
Money Management Rankings: Bottom 5
So, what can consumers do to ensure they maintain a good credit score? Schulz emphasizes keeping your credit card balance low, paying your bills on time and avoiding applying for too much credit too often. If you’re someone who can be forgetful about making payments on time, set up automated payments through either your credit card issuer’s website or your bank’s website.
“People with good credit scores get lower interest rates on credit cards, on car loans on mortgages – and you add all of those perks up together and it can save you a fortune over the course of life, so it’s definitely worth paying attention to,” Schulz adds.