With many pushing their available credit to the limit, Tampa Bay residents rank as third worst at managing their money compared to those in other major metros.
Across the state, Miami isn't faring much better, ranking fourth worst.
That's according to a new analysis by CreditCards.com that looks at both average credit scores in the 25 largest metros and what their expected credit score would be based on local income, age, unemployment and education data.
The online credit card marketing site began with the hypothesis that locations with higher median household incomes, median ages and educational attainment — along with a lower unemployment rate — would have higher credit scores.
But that wasn't always the case. The average Los Angeles-area resident's credit score, for example, was 16 points better than expected. That gave Los Angeles the crown as top money managers; Baltimore ranked worst in the survey.
Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst with CreditCards.com, said Tampa Bay residents have the lowest income level among the cities included in the survey along with one of the lowest average balances on credit cards.
What led the bay area into higher money management woes, he said, is that many are pushing their credit cards toward the max. "They have a pretty high utilization rate — a lot of their available credit is being taken up," he said.
Schulz pointed to a bright side of the first-time survey, namely that it shows consumers have more control over their credit scores than they might realize.
"A low income doesn't necessarily mean you have to have a bad credit score," he said. "Good credit is really more about discipline than about income or education level. If you do all the things right, you can have good credit even if your income is not that high."
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Contact Jeff Harrington at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @JeffMHarrington.