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Credit scores rank low for Florence, Darlington

March 30, 2018 GMT

FLORENCE, S.C. — Three little numbers have the power to determine a buyer’s interest rate, loan amount and even the ability to make a large purchase. Those three numbers are a credit score.

WalletHub, a personal finance website acclaimed by the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, released its rankings of median credit scores in United States cities.

The study compared the median credit scores of residents in 2,572 U.S. cities, using data from TransUnion.

Both Florence and Darlington ranked in the bottom percentile for average credit scores in the nation. Florence had an average credit score of 570, while Darlington’s was 561.

Hartsville is ranked in the third percentile, with an average credit score of 609.

Brian Picker, senior vice president of Southern Trust Mortgage in Charleston and in North Carolina, said many Southern areas will need to work on improving their credit score in the coming year.

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“Pay down revolving balances to 30 percent of their limits,” Picker told WalletHub. “Clear up inaccuracies, such as invalid medical collections or late payments on trade lines and request a removal letter are ways to improve your credit score.”

Picker said many people make the mistake of closing seasoned accounts, instead of leaving them open when balances hit zero.

“Lots of people close out old credit cards that have been around for many years because they don’t use them,” Picker said. “This can actually cause your score to drop because you are getting rid of established credit.”

Lucas Casarez, a certified financial planner and founder of Level Up Financial Planning, said there is not a way to increase credit scores quickly, but people should remain patient during the process.

“Unfortunately, just like anything, it does take time to increase your credit score,” Casarez said. “Length of credit history is literally one of the main criteria in establishing a credit score. It is possible, though, that information may be missing from your credit report, or is inaccurate. You’ll want to regularly review your three major credit reports to ensure that everything is accurate. If it’s not and the inaccuracy is hurting your score, that would be one way to quickly improve it.”

The highest average credit scores came in The Villages, Florida (807); Sun City Center, Florida (789); Sun City West, Arizona (787); Green Valley, Arizona (781); and Saratoga, California (780), all of which are popular retirement destinations.