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TransUnion Reveals U.S. Metro Areas With Best / Worst Credit Scores

San Jose, CA Ranks Best

CHICAGO, IL -- (Marketwire) -- 02/07/13 -- As consumers across the nation begin their New Year's financial resolutions, TransUnion has revealed a ranking of metropolitan areas with the highest and lowest consumer credit score in the country. The metropolitan areas at the very top of the class are San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA and San Francisco-Oakland-Freemont, CA. Memphis, TN metropolitan area ranked lowest.

"Just as an individual's credit score is a measure of the risk that consumer presents to a lender, our study calculated the credit score that would correspond to the risk presented on average by residents of various metropolitan areas," said Heather Battison, senior director at TransUnion responsible for consumer education. "We want to congratulate those cities that have the lowest average credit risk, or the highest credit scores -- and help educate those with high credit risk, or low credit scores."

Top 10 Core Based Statistical Areas* with the Highest credit scores

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA                700
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA                 696
Madison, WI                                       694
Honolulu, HI                                      693
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI           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

Top 10 Core Based Statistical Areas* with the Lowest Credit Scores

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 term "Core Based Statistical Area" (CBSA) is a collective term for both metropolitan and micropolitan areas. A metro area contains a core urban area of 50,000 or more population, and a micro area contains an urban core of at least 10,000 (but less than 50,000) population.

"Congratulations to the consumers in the areas with the highest credit scores," said Battison. "Regardless of your individual score, the New Year is the perfect time for all consumers to review their credit information to ensure it accurately reflects their credit history and to identify areas to work on."

The ranking is the first of its kind from TransUnion, which compiled the credit scores of the top 100 largest CBSAs and determined the ten CBSAs with the lowest credit score based on the highest average consumer credit risk and the ten CBSAs with the highest credit score based on the lowest average consumer credit risk.

VantageScore® credit score is a highly predictive and consistent consumer credit scoring model, and the first developed together by all three major credit reporting companies. Consumer scores fall within a range of 501 to 990, with higher scores representing a lower likelihood of risk to lenders. At TransUnion.com, each score delivered is accompanied by a letter grade. (901+ = A, 900-801=B, 800-701=C, 700-601=D, and 600-501=F). Among others, VantageScore is currently utilized by 4 of the top 5 financial institutions and all of the top 5 credit card issuers. The CBSA credit score used in this study is based upon the VantageScore credit score at the individual consumer level.

"Because lenders have so many scoring models at their disposal, it's rare when the credit score they receive for a consumer and the score the consumer obtains for himself actually match, and that causes a lot of confusion," said Battison. "That's why the A-F, academic-style letter grade that comes with every VantageScore® credit score consumers obtain at TransUnion.com is so beneficial. If my grade is an 'A', I innately understand that means a lender is likely to view my creditworthiness in a very positive light; and that's primarily what I want to know."

Whether your credit receives high grades or could use some work, TransUnion provides the following tips to keeping your credit healthy:

  • Study your situation. Proactively manage your credit and risk for identity theft with an ongoing credit monitoring product. This will help you understand your financial situation; then create a plan to position yourself better in the eyes of the lender.

  • Don't be tardy with your payments. A history of late payments -- even by a few days -- can potentially harm your credit score.

  • Manage your debts. Keeping high balances relative to credit limits on key credit accounts can likely have a negative impact on a score, so concentrate on paying down debt. As a rule of thumb, keep these balances at or below 30 percent of your total available credit to present the best possible financial image to lenders. Set budget goals and use a tool like TransUnion Plus to monitor not only your credit, but also your key financial accounts like your checking, savings and 401k accounts.

  • Give yourself time. Long-term credit relationships and a diverse mix of credit accounts may help you achieve a higher credit score. Avoid closing credit cards and other accounts that have been paid on time over a long period, as it can make your credit history appear shorter and could affect your score.

  • Limit inquiries. Each time you apply for a new credit card, you should expect that an inquiry will appear on your credit report. Frequent credit card inquiries can make it look like you have a cash flow problem and may lower your credit score. However, when you shop for mortgage or auto loan rates over a two to three week period, credit scoring models typically factor the resulting inquiries together as a single item. This enables you to shop for favorable loan rates with minimal impact to your credit score.

Methodology
Using TransUnion anonymized credit data, the VantageScore credit scores by TransUnion as of December 2012 for all credit-active consumers in the top 100 CBSAs were analyzed by CBSA to determine the ten CBSAs with the highest average consumer credit risk and the ten CBSAs with the lowest average consumer credit risk.

About TransUnion
TransUnion Interactive, Inc. is a consumer subsidiary of TransUnion. As a global leader in credit and information management, TransUnion creates advantages for millions of people around the world by gathering, analyzing and delivering information. For businesses, TransUnion helps improve efficiency, manage risk, reduce costs and increase revenue by delivering comprehensive data and advanced analytics and decisioning. For consumers, TransUnion provides the tools, resources and education to help manage their credit health and achieve their financial goals. Through these and other efforts, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies worldwide. Founded in 1968 and headquartered in Chicago, TransUnion employs associates in more than 33 countries on five continents. www.transunion.com. Follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TransUnion.

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John Branham
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