NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Where you live could be indicative of your financial risk.
The Little Rock area, for example, is one of 10 metro areas with the lowest average credit scores, according to a recent report from the credit tracking agency TransUnion.
So, What's in a number?
When that number is your credit score, it's the key that gives you access to credit cards, mortgages and other loans. According to TransUnion, Central Arkansans have an average credit score of 651.
Henry Cameron, a credit counselor with Consumer Credit Counseling Services in North Little Rock, says that score will barely get you a home loan.
"For mortgages it's around 645. The higher the better. If you're in the 700 to 800 range, you're in good shape," explained Cameron.
Experts say a score below 600 is in need of improvement. Cameron says if you want to boost your credit score, payment history is weighted the heaviest.
"If anything, if you don't pay your bills on time, and by bills I mean those type of bills that show up on your credit report like credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages. Then it's going to lower your score."
Maxed-out credit cards will also drive down your score.
"When credit cards first came out they were intended for short-term debt. (It) never was intended to for someone to run up $50-$60,000 on a credit card."
Cameron also says for those looking to generate credit, a secured credit card backed with your own money is a good option.
"The limit is set real low. Some are $100, some are $300, some are $500 and you go out and charge on it enough to where you can pay it off every month and that's creating a positive payment history."
According to Cameron, consumers must realize that a credit score is a snapshot of your current credit, meaning it's constantly changing.
"Just because you have a low credit score, don't give up. If you take the right positive steps, that score will improve."
Coming in with the lowest average credit score of 638 is the Memphis area, according to TransUnion's report. San Jose, California has the highest average score at 700.