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Cities where residents have the best credit scores

Wausau, Wis., leads the nation among cities where residents manage their money carefully.

 If you live in the Midwest, then you live in the U.S. region where residents are the most responsible with their money. So says Experian, an agency that collects financial information about people, businesses, cars and insurance.

They’ve analyzed the credit and debt habits of the American people and determined which cities have the people with the highest credit scores. The findings come from its second annual “State of Credit”report.

Those results are based on the average VantageScore by designated market area from January through June 2011. The VantageScore has a range of 501 to 900, from worst to best.

Among other things, the analysis revealed that the average credit score in the U.S. is 749, the average debt is $24,542 and the average percentage of available credit in American households is 71.17 percent. Using data from Experian, CNBC.com presents 2012 edition of the cities with the best credit scores.

No. 10: La Crosse, Wis.

•Credit Score: 777

•Debt: $19,985

•Number of late payments: 0.30 percent

•Credit available: 75.56

•Number of open credit cards: 1.84

La Crosse, Wis., has fallen two spots from last year’s No. 8 ranking. The average debt in the city is lower than that of any other in the top 10, but its loss of status indicates that other factors come into play when determining average credit scores, such as the 35 foreclosures that occurred during the survey period. That's a high number considering its small population of 51,320 people.

No. 9: Sioux Falls, S.D.

•Credit Score: 778

•Debt: $23,710

•Number of late payments: 0.24 percent

•Credit available: 75.84

•Number of open credit cards: 1.96

Sioux Falls, S.D., has risen one notch from No. 10. At the time this analysis was conducted, the city had an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent, less than half of the 9.2 percent national average. This could only have helped improve its standing.

No. 8: Peoria, Ill.

•Credit Score: 778

•Debt: $26,075

•Number of late payments: 0.30 percent

•Credit available: 76.52

•Number of open credit cards: 1.85

Peoria, Ill., has fallen one notch from No. 7 since the previous year. Although the average number of late payments is slightly higher than those of No. 9, Sioux Falls, the average percentage of available credit is higher as well.

No. 7: Boston, Mass.

 •Credit Score: 779

•Debt: $24,360

•Number of late payments: 0.30 percent

•Credit available: 73.15

•Number of open credit  cards: 2.13

Boston has fallen one spot from last year's list. It has a lower percentage of available credit than most of the cities on this list and the highest number of open credit cards of all of them. However, the city has a median family income of $96,500, well above the national average of $64,200.

No. 6: Green Bay, Wis.

•Credit Score: 780

•Debt: $22,233

•Number of late payments: 0.34 percent

•Credit available: 76.43

•Number of open credit cards: 1.76

Like La Crosse, Green Bay, Wis., has fallen two spots from the previous year. Although residents have a relatively low number of open credit cards and a healthy amount of available credit, the city experienced 97 foreclosures during the survey period, which is a lot for a city with 104,057 residents.

No. 5: San Francisco, Calif.

 •Credit score: 781

•Debt: $23,973

•Number of late payments: 0.30 percent

•Credit available: 72.83

•Number of open credit cards: 2.02

At No. 5, San Francisco is the only city on this list to retain its ranking from the previous year. Its residents have a relatively high number of open credit cards and a relatively low percentage of available credit. At the time of the survey, the city had a 10 percent unemployment rate, higher than the national average of 9.2 percent. But at $101,600, San Francisco is the only city on this list with a six-figure median family income, which helps it retain its foothold.

No. 4: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

•Credit score: 781

•Debt: $23,628

•Number of late payments: 0.32 percent

•Credit available: 76.57

•Number of open credit cards: 1.82

Like most of the cities on this list, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has fallen one spot since the previous year. Still, No. 4 isn’t a bad place to be. Its high placement is due in part to a high percentage of available credit and a low unemployment rate of 6 percent.

No. 3: Madison, Wis.

 •Credit score: 785

•Debt: $23,533

•Number of late payments: 0.27 percent

•Credit available: 75.90

•Number of open credit cards: 1.79

Madison, Wis., has fallen one spot to No. 3, but like Cedar Rapids, the city is still in good standing despite the slippage. It has a lower-than-average unemployment rate at 6 percent, a higher-than-average median family income of $81,800 and a high percentage of available credit.

No. 2: Minneapolis, Minn.

•Credit score: 787

•Debt: $24,994

•Number of late payments: 0.26 percent

•Credit available: 73.45

•Number of open credit cards: 2.08

In the previous year, Minneapolis, Minn., proudly topped the “State of Credit” list. However, times change, and during the most recent survey period, it fell one spot. Still, its average credit score of 787 is impressive, and the city owes it in part to a low unemployment rate of 6.9 percent, and a median family income of $82,700. On the negative side, it had 786 foreclosures.

No. 1: Wausau, Wis.

•Credit score: 789

•Debt: $22,439

•Number of late payments: 0.27 percent

•Credit available: 77.52

•Number of open credit cards: 1.71

The highest-ranking city is Wausau, Wis., a remarkable development considering that in the previous year, it didn’t even make the list. Interestingly, of the 10 cities on this list, four, including Wausau, are in Wisconsin. When it comes to managing personal credit and debt, the people of Wisconsin must be doing something right.

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