Midwest Cities Lead the Nation When It Comes to Credit Scores

Midwest Cities Have the Best Credit Scores, the South Has the Worst
Midwest Cities Have the Best Credit Scores, the South Has the Worst

There must be something in the cheese.

Four of the 10 top-ranked American cities for credit scores are in Wisconsin, according to a new analysis by Experian.

Wausau, Wis., has the country's highest average credit score at 789. It's the first time the city, which has a population of nearly 39,000 people, was big enough to be included in the survey.

The lowest average credit score belongs to Harlingen, Texas. At 686, the city of fewer than 60,000 is the only one with an average score below 700.

The analysis used the VantageScore system, which is rates credit scores on a scale from 501 to 990, and with a letter grade. That scale is slightly different from the FICO credit score, which more people may be familiar with, and which is based on a scale of 300 to 850.

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La Crosse, Wis., which ranked tenth for credit score, also has the nation's lowest average debt at $19,985. The nearby states of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and South Dakota each host cities that made the top 10. Outside the Midwest, only San Francisco and Boston made the list.

High foreclosure and unemployment rates characterized many of the cities on bottom end of the list: The unemployment rate in Harlingen is nearly 13%. Eight of the 10 lowest-ranking cities were in the South. Bakersfield, Calif., and Las Vegas, cities hard hit by the foreclosure crisis, also made the bottom 10.

According to the analysis, the nation's average score is 749 or a C grade. But overall the country is moving gradually in a positive direction in terms of credit: The national score is up one point from 2010 and five of lowest-ranked cities made improvements compared to last year, according to USA Today.

Gallery: U.S. Cities With Top Credit Scores