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The Most Credit-Challenged States

Christine DiGangi

There are many ways to characterize challenges in the world credit. Low credit scores are certainly strong indicators, but access to new credit and payment histories will also show whether consumers are creditworthy.

When looking at average credit scores of states across the country, there wasn’t much difference between the state with the highest score (Minnesota) and the lowest (Mississippi). Using the VantageScore model — created by Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — the 50 states and the District of Columbia’s average credit scores fell within a 78-point range, all in the “fair credit” category. (With the VantageScore model used here, 900 to 990 is considered excellent, 800 to 899 is good, 700 to 799 is fair, 600 to 699 is poor and 501 to 599 is bad.)

To better determine the credit health of states’ residents, we used data from the Experian-Oliver Wyman Market Intelligence Reports and Experian’s IntelliView tool to compare three data points across all states from the second quarter of 2013: Auto loan, mortgage and credit card originations; 90-day delinquency rates from those three loan types; and average VantageScore (VantageScore 3.0, a newer product with a scale of 300 to 850, was not used in these calculations).

We weighed each factor equally, and the results showed geographic credit trends. States in New England, the Midwest and the West made up the top-rated states, though there were some exceptions.

Of the 16 states (plus Washington) in the South, as determined by the Census Bureau, only two were in the top half of our rankings: Maryland is No. 24, while Virginia is No. 13. On the flip side, New York (No. 26) is the only state in the Northeast on the bottom half of the list. Rankings in the West and Midwest were scattered.

Based on our calculations, Mississippi residents’ credit scores, access to new credit and delinquencies put the state at the bottom of our struggling list. Mississippi has the lowest average VantageScore and fewest originations (originations per capita were rounded to the nearest thousandth), but Nevada and Florida had higher delinquency rates — Florida’s is above 1%. Eight other Southern states and the District of Columbia rounded out the bottom 10.

10. Kentucky

  • Average VantageScore: 739
  • Loan originations per capita: 0.056
  • 90-Day delinquency rate: 0.67%

9. District of Columbia

  • Average VantageScore: 740
  • Loan originations per capita: 0.059
  • 90-day delinquency rate: 0.85%

8. Tennessee

  • Average VantageScore: 735
  • Loan originations per capita: 0.056
  • 90-day delinquency rate: 0.70%

7. Arkansas

  • Average VantageScore: 725
  • Loan originations per capita: 0.057
  • 90-day delinquency rate: 0.68%

6. Oklahoma

  • Average VantageScore: 727
  • Loan originations per capita: 0.057
  • 90-day delinquency rate: 0.71%

5. Georgia

  • Average VantageScore: 721
  • Loan originations per capita: 0.058
  • 90-day delinquency rate: 0.84%

4. Alabama

  • Average VantageScore: 727
  • Loan originations per capita: 0.052
  • 90-day delinquency rate: 0.78%

3. South Carolina

  • Average VantageScore: 728
  • Loan originations per capita: 0.055
  • 90-day delinquency rate: 0.85%

2. Louisiana

  • Average VantageScore: 720
  • Loan originations per capita: 0.053
  • 90-day delinquency rate: 0.81%

1. Mississippi

  • Average VantageScore: 707
  • Loan originations per capita: 0.044
  • 90-day delinquency rate: 0.87%

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