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10 Cities With the Highest Credit Scores

The average credit score, one of the best measures of financial responsibility, is finally starting to stabilize, after a steady slide from 2006 to 2009, suggesting consumer belt tightening is starting to work.

The national average was 747.10 at the end of 2010, according to Experian, one of the three big credit-reporting agencies. That’s on a scale of 501 to 990.

Experian, along with the other major credit-reporting agencies, Equifax and TransUnion, use a system called VantageScoreto determine a person’s credit score. It takes into consideration your payment history, how much you use your credit cards, if you carry a balance, how long you’ve been using credit cards and how much credit is still available to you.

VantageScore 2.0, which launched at the beginning of 2011, blends data from two different timeframes – 2006 to 2008 and 2007 to 2009 – in order to distinguish those people who may have been fiscally responsible before the recession but fell on hard times in the past few years.

Here are 10 cities that had the highest credit scores at the end of 2010. All but two cities on the list have unemployment rates well below the national average.

Bert Sperling of BestPlaces.netsaid when he studied “fiscal fitness” of cities a few years ago, western Pennsylvania and the Midwest ranked high, just as they did on this list. “Talking with financial professionals in those areas, they spoke about a culture of thrift, saving, and the ability to look at the long term. Psychologists would also call this an ability to defer gratification,” he said. “There is also something in the Germanic and Scandinavian ethic that is more frugal and less indulgent.”

Some of the other cities on the list are notable high-tech hubs, where there tends to be more demand for jobs and higher income.

Click through to see if your city made the list.

Sources: Credit data from Experian are for December 2010, and unemployment data from theLabor Department are for February 2011, the most recent periods for which those data are available. Other data were compiled by BestPlaces.net.

By Cindy Perman
Posted 6 Apr 2011

Photo: John Elk III | Lonely Planet Images | Getty Images