Top Places for Rising Credit Scores
Credit scores are a crucial component of personal financial stability and opportunity, and play a key role in determining what kind of lifestyle we can have and how much those lifestyle choices will ultimately cost us.
Credit habits can vary widely by region, and to that end, we looked at anonymized My LendingTree users who logged into their accounts in both the first quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018 to determine the top metros for rising credit scores among the 50 largest in the United States.
My LendingTree users can log in any time to see an overview of their credit profiles and scores, and receive real-time alerts of any meaningful changes to their reports, such as hard credit inquiries. Some users may simply want to know what their profiles and scores look like, others may want to want to make sure they stay on their current tracks, but plenty of others sign up for My LendingTree as the first step in a proactive effort to improve their profiles and scores.
At LendingTree, we recognize that many people face real-life challenges that prevent them from making improvements to their credit scores, but we wanted to get a sense of whether using our credit monitoring service was helping people with a sometimes confusing process that requires a good deal of awareness and discipline.
- Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Denver and Tampa saw the highest rate of rising credit scores among the 50 biggest metros from Q1 2017 to Q1 2018.
- Virginia Beach, Va., Los Angeles and Birmingham, Ala., had the lowest rate of rising credit scores. 47% of Virginia Beach users raised their credit scores.
- San Jose (Silicon Valley) saw the most dramatic rises in credit scores, with the highest rates of people who raised their score by more than 75 points and 100 points.
- In the majority of the 50 metros analyzed, more than 50% of users improved their credit scores between Q1 2017 and Q1 2018.
- About one in three increased their scores by over 20 points.
- 3.5% were able to improve their scores by 100 points or more.
Increasing your credit score could reduce the cost of borrowing. See how a 50- or 100- point improvement in credit scores has a positive impact on the rate offers we reviewed.
|Mortgage APR||Personal Loan APR|
|50-point score increase||5.1%||17.0%|
|100-point score increase||4.8%||10.4%|
Homebuyers who start with scores of 640 – 679 and improve them by 100 points before buying a home could save over $28,000 over the life of a 30-year mortgage by qualifying for a 4.8% rather than 5.4% APR, assuming an average loan amount of $234,437.
The APRs above are reported in LendingTree’s monthly mortgage and personal loan offers reports, which show the average of the best offers made to LendingTree users each month within credit score bands. Score bands used for the rates are: Baseline (640-679), 50-point increase (680-719), 100-point increase (720-759).
5 tips to boost your credit score:
Pay your bills on time
On-time payments account for 35% of your FICO score. You typically have a grace period after missing a payment before lenders will report the late payment to credit bureaus. It’s usually 30 days or so. Contact your lender to see if they can work with you while you catch up on payments.
Keep debt balances low
Your utilization ratio is a key factor of your score, accounting for 30%. Ideally, you want to keep it below 30%. That means you are only using 30% of your total available debt limits from month to month. If you have three credit cards with a total limit of $15,000, you don’t want to carry month-to-month balances of more than $4,500 in total.
Only open new credit accounts when necessary
Opening new accounts all the time can ding your score and tell lenders you’re not responsible with credit. New credit inquiries accounts for 10% of your score. When you’re shopping for loans like a mortgage or auto loan, however, rest easy. If you compare offers from multiple lenders in a short window (usually 14-45 days) those inquiries should just count as one hard inquiry on your account.
Consolidate to pay off credit card debt faster
Paying down debt is a great way to boost your score because it lowers your credit utilization and it often means you’re making payments on time, two of the biggest factors that determine your score.
If you are having trouble managing multiple debts, check out our guide to debt consolidation. A couple of popular ways to consolidate are by either taking out a personal loan or taking advantage of a 0% intro APR balance transfer credit card offer. You can also sign up for a debt management plan to get extra help from professionals.
Avoid closing unused cards
Closing your account can hurt you in two ways. It could lower the average age of your credit (15% of your score) and it could lower your available credit limit, which in turn, can increase your utilization rate and hurt your score.
If you have a card that’s charging high fees and you rarely use it, ask to downgrade to a no-fee version of the card (contact the bank to discuss your options).
We looked a sample of users who logged into My LendingTree in both the first quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018 and compared their credit scores at each point in time to calculate that user’s change in credit score. These results were then aggregated to the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas by population. My LendingTree has over 8 million users and scores are provided by TransUnion.