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Will FICO Scores Determine the Super Bowl Winner?

, by Tom Quinn

Football fans are gearing up for the big event, Super Bowl LII approaches. As part of the lead-up to the game, there is a great deal of speculation and analysis on which team will take the title—the New England Patriots or the Philadelphia Eagles.

Sports experts are evaluating stats with obvious relevance to forecasting a likely winner, such as recent performance, "big game" experience, physical strength, injuries, etc. Sports fans are also focused on less "data-driven" points such as the degree of fan base loyalty, team colors, celebrity fan base and local food specialties to name a few. Really...can one fairly compare a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich versus a bowl of New England Clam Chowder?

Can analyzing the FICO® Scores and credit behaviors of the participating team's home cities give us insight into the final score that determines the winner? For fun, we analyzed and compared several credit attributes for populations in the greater Boston and Philadelphia metropolitan areas on a recent sample of credit bureau data:

__New England__ __Philadelphia__
Average FICO® Score 8 729 707
% people currently 90 days past due or greater on one or more of their credit accounts 10% 17%
Average credit card utilization 26% 33%
Average total balances on credit cards $5,333 $5,888
Average time since most recent credit account was open 31 months 32 months
Average # of inquiries in last 12 months 1 1

These results show, on average:

  • New Englanders are lower credit risks and have higher FICO® Scores (by more than 20 points on average) compared to people living in the greater Philadelphia area.

  • Philadelphians are almost 2 times more likely to have a 90 day past due or greater posting. Payment history is very predictive and is one of the most important factors considered in FICO® Fewer missed payments translates into higher FICO® Scores.

  • While the average total balances on credit cards are relatively close between the two metropolitan areas, credit card utilization is noticeably higher for Philadelphia. FICO® Scores not only evaluate revolving account balances, but also the ratio of those balances to your available credit. The lower the utilization, the better from a FICO® Score perspective.

  • The metropolitan areas are similar when evaluating credit seeking behaviors.

In the unlikely event that the credit behaviors of a team's hometown residents have any impact on the game's outcome, one would be wise to bet on New England winning.

A couple facts you can bet on regardless of the team you are rooting for:

  • Unlike the score at the end of the Super Bowl, your FICO® Scores are not final. FICO® Scores are dynamic and change over time as your credit behaviors change and are reflected in your underlying credit report data. So if you currently have a lower score, it's not predetermined to stay low forever.

  • Actions such as paying your bills on time, using your available credit responsibly and only applying for credit when needed can help you increase your FICO® Scores and secure your path to being a winner in the "Super Bowl of Credit Empowerment."

May the best team win and if you are not a fan of either, may the commercials be entertaining!

Tom Quinn

Tom Quinn is the Vice President of Business Development for myFICO and has over 25 years of experience working with consumers, regulators, and lenders regarding credit related questions and initiatives.