NEW YORK (MainStreet) — We're proud of where we live. Whether your city is home base for a major league team, the birthplace of someone famous or the starting point of a food craze, we love to brag about where we reside – it's home after all. But what about money? How do your credit scores and debts measure up against your neighbors'?
Experian recently calculated and compared the national averages and the averages of 20 major U.S. cities, to find out exactly who holds bragging rights in the finance department.
According to Experian's Credit Trends Study, the national average VantageScore (which ranges from 300 to 850) is 665. And while that number has held steady since 2010, debt has increased across the nation. In 2014, Experian found the average debt was $25,927, compared to $24,678 in 2010.
Things have probably changed in your neighborhood too...
Cities With the Top Five VantageScores
If you live in any of these areas, your city's history isn't the only thing worth bragging about.
- Minneapolis – 702
- Boston – 694
- San Francisco – 689
- Seattle – 679
- New York City – 678
Cities With the Five Lowest VantageScores
If you live in these metro areas, your citywide average is in the bottom five.
- Dallas – 648
- Houston – 648
- Miami – 648
- Phoenix - 654
- Atlanta – 646
Credit scores impact everything from applying for a mortgage, to refinancing an auto loan, to searching for the lowest insurance premiums, and every little bit counts. For example, while there is only a 56 point difference between the average credit score in Minneapolis to the average credit score in Atlanta, it's enough to impact interest rates on credit cards and revolving loans.
Debt also plays a big factor in your credit scores, but it may not mean a higher or lower citywide average. Experian tracked credit cards, auto, personal and student loans to see how these 20 cities compare.
Top Five Cities With the Smallest Amount of Debt
- Detroit - $23,604
- Las Angeles - $24,361
- Miami - $24,884
- Boston - $25,413
- Tampa - $25,537
Boston was the only city to make both the lowest debt and best VantageScores list, while Miami residents carry relatively low debts and lower credit scores.
Five Cities Carrying the Most Amount of Debt
- Baltimore - $27,271
- Seattle - $27,279
- Washington D.C. - $27,668
- Houston - $28,105
- Dallas - $28,240
At the other end of the scale, Seattle was the only city to have the biggest debts and high credit scores while Houston and Dallas made the bottom of both lists.
Surprisingly, when comparing average debts in 2010 to averages in 2014, 19 out of the 20 cities had increased debt levels. Only Detroit managed to lower its average debt from $25,409 in 2010 to $23,604 in 2014. These cities took on the most new debt:
Cities With the Five Biggest Increases in Debt
- San Diego – Debt increased 11.03%, from $23,797 to $26,423
- Houston – Debt increased 10.84%, from $25,357 to $28,105
- St. Louis – Debt increased 8.44%, from $24,641 to $26,721
- Dallas – Debt increased 7.78%, from $26,203 to $28,240
- Washington, D.C. – Debt increased 7.01%, from $25,856 to $27,668
While debt may lower your credit score (and cause stress headaches), it may not be a bad thing for cities. "[Debt increases] could actually be signaling a recovery pattern as credit lending is opening up and consumers are becoming more confident," said Michele Raneri, Experian's vice president of analytics, in a statement.
--Written by Angela Colley for MainStreet