New data shows that Atlantans’ average credit scores have fallen to 113th in the nation among metro areas.
Average credit scores in Atlanta are now 727, according to Experian, below the national average of 750 and down from 736 five years ago. Atlanta’s current ranking among larger metros is even lower than its ranking of 96th in 2007.
Wells Fargo is trying to help customers by providing free credit scores and advice on improving them. Customers have until Nov. 15 to walk into any bank store anywhere and receive a personal access code for a credit score, for which credit agencies typically charge $12.
When the credit score is obtained online, the credit agency Experian will provide immediate advice on how to increase it — and Wells Fargo bankers will provide guidance in follow-up appointments. The free score is available for 90 days to track immediate improvements, such as by paying off forgotten bills.
Mechel Glass, vice president of community outreach for CredAbility, a non-profit credit counseling service based in Atlanta, said credit scores are “very important.”
“Your credit score determines the interest rate you will pay for mortgages, automobile loans, credit cards, personal lines of credit, and more,” she said. “Consumers with lower credit scores will be less likely to get approval for zero interest rate promotions or take advantage of opportunities to transfer balances to credit lines with lower interest rates. Knowing your credit score and how to earn and maintain the best possible score should be part of an overall strategy to maintain your fiscal health.”
One silver lining in the Experian data is that Atlantans’ average debt has fallen almost $2,000 in the last five years to $25,733, excluding mortgages. That is still almost a thousand dollars above the national average of $24,980.