Personal Finance

Places Where People Pay Their Bills On Time

Late bill payments can stay on a credit report for up to seven years and make it more difficult to qualify for new financing. Even so, many people struggle to meet their monthly bill obligations.

In a new LendingTree study, we analyzed the top 100 largest U.S. metro areas to find out where people are most likely to pay their bills on time.

LendingTree researchers pulled anonymized TransUnion-based credit reports of a sample of the more than 9 million My LendingTree users from the first quarter of 2018 and ranked the largest 100 Americans metros by the percentage of residents with at least one account overdue on their credit report.

The higher the ranking, the greater the likelihood that the city’s residents are paying their bills on time.

Key takeaways

  • About 95% of borrowers in the 100 metros we reviewed are paying their bills on time.
  • On average, people have six past late payments on their credit report.
  • Provo, Utah tops our ranking with fewer than 6% of its residents having a delinquent account.
  • San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif., follow close behind, ranking second and third, respectively.
  • People who live west of the Rockies are the most likely to repay their credit card debt on time, taking up nine of the top 10 spots, and 16 of the top 25 spots.
  • Winston-Salem, N.C. has the highest rate of people with a delinquent account. About 9.53% of Winston-Salem residents have at least one delinquent account on their credit reports.

California dominates the ranking by snagging four of the top 10 spots. Washington comes in second with Seattle and Spokane in a tie for the fourth place.

San Jose, No. 7 on the ranking, has the highest percentage of people being current on their bills — 96.8%. San Jose borrowers also have the fewest late payments on their credit ratings, averaged at 4.6 times.

Milwaukee is the only city east of the Rocky Mountains that made the top 10. Nearly 6.6% of its residents have had late payments.

In contrast, people in the Northeast and the South are most likely to be late on bill payments.

Scranton, Pa., New Haven, Conn. and Augusta, Ga. fall in second to last place and a tie for third to last place, respectively, in terms of late payments. About 9.52% residents in Scranton, Pa. have not always made on-time payments, while New Haven and Augusta each has 9.4% of people with late payment marks in their credit histories.

People in Jackson, Miss. who have fallen behind their bills have an average of 8 late payment marks on their credit reports, the highest number among all cities reviewed in the study.

Nationally, the lower the city ranked, the greater the percentage of residents in those places who have had late payments marked on their credit ratings.

LendingTree’s tips to tackle debt

  • Make on-time payments. On-time payments account for 35% of your FICO score, which means they can really make or break your credit rating. Your credit score will improve after you can show a record of on-time payments, even if you don’t pay your debt in full. That being said, it’s also important to keep debt balances low, which we’ll cover next.
  • Keep debt balances low. Utilization is the second-most important factor in determining your credit score. Ideally, you never want to carry more than 30% of your total available debt limit.
  • Create a budget. Create a budget and stick to it. Look at how much money you earn every month and don’t spend more than you can pay off each month. When you’ve paid off your debt, start establishing an emergency fund to prevent you from getting back into the debt cycle.
  • Keep spending under control. When you’re struggling to make ends meet, one of the first lines of defense is to rein in your spending. Follow these approaches to break your bad spending habits and live within your means.
  • Debt avalanche: prioritize your debts by highest interest rate. Make a list of all the debt you owe, noting interest rates and minimum payments, and try to pay off the debts with the highest interest rates first. This will save you the most money on interest charges in the long-run.
  • Debt snowball: prioritize your debt by lowest balances. This is another popular debt-payoff strategy. List debts by the smallest balance to largest balance. Pay minimum payments on everything but the smallest balance owed. For that balance, pay as much above the minimum payment as you can afford. Once it’s paid off, redistribute the money you were using for that debt to the next highest balance, and so on and so forth.
  • Balance transfer. A balance transfer allows you to roll over your debt from one high-interest credit card (or several) to another one with a lower interest rate or, possibly, a card with a promotional 0% APR period. As a result, you could pay less in interest than you would if you kept the debt where it is. View our best balance transfer credit cards here.
  • Consolidate your debt. A personal loan allows you to transfer your balances into one loan at a lower interest rate than the typical credit card’s. It will reduce the number of payments you have to make every month, and you may also save on interest payments.

Methodology

Anonymized My LendingTree user credit report data from TransUnion for the first quarter of 2018 was aggregated by metropolitan statistical area (MSA) to calculate the percentage of people with at least one delinquent account in their credit report and the metro was ranked on that basis. My LendingTree has more than nine million users. Additional calculations include the percentage of people who have no late payments on all of their open accounts; the average number of late payments in the histories of people in each MSA; and the average number of payments 90 days late in histories of people in each MSA.