Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Debtor City Map

Men's Health has a fun interactive map titled, Is Your City a Debt Trap. They used US Census data on "the percentage of people being squeezed by high housing and rental costs" (whatever that means), FDIC's recent personal bankruptcy rates, and Experian's reports on average credit scores, credit card debt levels, and credit to debt ratios. It's Men's Health, whose "science" is better equipped to explain how to bench 25% more, but the map is still intriguing.

City with the highest debt? Ten to one you know the answer. Las Vegas. City with the least debt? Billings, MT. Apparently not a whole lot of shopping to do in Billings. NYC only made the top ten in one category, cities with the lowest balance-to-limit ratio, clocking in at number 3. They ranked a hundred cities, so there's a good chance you're on there.

On a separate note, I got my credit score yesterday. It's 764, which they ranked as "excellent". Under negative factors that went against my score it's noted I have opened 5 accounts in the past 24 months. I just closed two of them (my irritating Chase cards which had no grace period, plus their ATMs are littering the neighborhood), which showed up and is reflected in the score. I wondered how much closing accounts affected your score, so far so good. I still want to close three more and just keep two Amex cards, a B of A Mastercard (oldest card, lowest rate, highest limit), and my REI Visa. I put everything on the Amex for points, use the Visa if Amex is not accepted, never touch the Mastercard, and pay off my balances in full every month. All I can say is, thank god I don't live near a casino...

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