Credit Karma, which offers free credit scores and scoring information, reports that residents in red states on average have lower credit scores than their blue-state cousins.
Maryland, one of the bluest states, has an average score of 666.
Overall: Blue states ahead by 16 points.
“It’s significant,” says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education for SmartCredit.com. In credit scores ranging between 600 and 700 points, the difference of 5 or more points can have a big impact on the terms a creditor offers to a consumer.
(A 16-point gap in scores below 600 doesn’t make much of a difference because all the terms offered to those consumers will be poor, Ulzheimer says. And a 16-point gap in scores above 700 won’t make much a difference, either, because those borrowers are all likely to get good terms.)
Ulzheimer, who lives in red state Georgia, says “most of the states in the Southeast have the lowest credit scores.” And the Southeast has many red states.
But blue states carry more debt. (Ulzheimer notes that some big blue states such as California and New York have a higher cost of living, which could account for the higher debt.)
The average credit card debt among blue states is about $6,201, says Credit Karma, compared with $5,856 among red states. Blue state residents also carry an average of $26,081 in student loan debt, compared with $24,048 among red state residents.
Maryland’s debt is even larger. Credit Karma says the average credit card debt here is $6,730 while the typical student loan debt is $26,772.
But debt doesn’t necessarily matter in credit scores, Ulzheimer says.
“You can have a ton of credit card debt. As long as it is paid on time and is low relative to credit limits, you are in great shape,” he says.