The 10 Best Cities for Building Your Credit Score — And the 10 Worst

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Having a good credit score is the key to unlocking the lowest available interest rates on loans, the best rewards credit cards and even that next apartment you’ve been eyeing.

There are many factors that play a role in having a solid credit score, and while where you live doesn’t magically raise it, there are certain cities that stand out for giving their residents better opportunities to improve their finances, which, in turn, can help to improve one’s credit. For example, a large part of building good credit is being able to pay off debt, something that’s easier to do in cities where the unemployment rate is lower and the minimum wage is higher than it is in other cities.

A recent study by researchers at Upgraded Points™ took a look at 60 of the largest cities throughout the US, analyzed eight different factors — average credit scores, credit card debt, interest rates, cost of living, unemployment rate, minimum wage, personal income and the amount of available financial advisors — and used this information to reveal the best US cities for building your credit score.

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The top 10 best cities for building your credit score

The study determined the following 10 US cities to be the best for building your credit score:

  1. Boston, MA
  2. San Jose, CA
  3. Rochester, NY
  4. Albany, NY
  5. San Francisco, CA
  6. Minneapolis, MN
  7. Salt Lake City, UT
  8. Syracuse, NY
  9. Madison, WI
  10. San Diego, CA

Boston, San Jose and Rochester took first, second and third place, respectively, as the best cities to bump up your credit score. The minimum wage is higher in each of these cities, with Boston having an average minimum wage of $14.25 per hour, one of the highest in the US Having a comparatively low unemployment rate of 3.7% also helped Boston earn the top spot, as did having interest rates of 3.81%, the lowest of all the cities that were analyzed.

In addition to higher minimum wages, other common threads across the top three cities include lower unemployment rates, a lower cost of living, higher average credit scores and an abundance of financial advisors.

Of the top 10 cities, Salt Lake City has the lowest cost of living index, while the three New York cities that made the list — Rochester, Albany and Syracuse — reveal an average cost of living index that is 30% cheaper to live in than the national average.

Regarding the amount of available financial advisors, Boston has 121 of them per capita, while some of the places on the list of worst cities for building credit, which we’ll get into next, have significantly fewer resources for their residents — Austin, for instance , has just 70 available advisors per capita, while New Orleans and Oklahoma City each have 30 available advisors per capita.

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Experian Boost™ is a free feature that lets you add your on-time payments to select phone, internet, cable, utility (gas, electricity, water) and streaming services such as Netflix®, HBO™, Hulu™ and Disney+™ to your Experian credit report. According to the website, users, on average, received a 13-point increase in their FICO® Score.*

To get the rankings, each factor was assigned a certain numerical amount based on its importance relating to boosting one’s credit score, which was then converted to a number between 0 and 5, calculated (click here for more on their methodology) and ranked accordingly to determine the cities that were most conducive to improving one’s finances and, ultimately, one’s credit score.

The worst cities for building your credit score

Bottom line

For rates and fees of the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, click here

*Results may vary. Some may not see improved scores or approval odds. Not all lenders use Experian credit files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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