Ranking the Cities with the Highest Average Credit Card Debt

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For many Americans, credit card debt is (sadly) a fact of life. Survey after survey has shown that the majority of individuals aren’t able to cover an unexpected expense of a few hundred dollars or more, leaving them with few options other than resorting to plastic. As a result, credit card debt in the U.S. exceeded $1 trillion last year.

Now a study reported by MarketWatch takes a closer look at which cities in the United States have the highest average credit card balances. Coming in first place was a city that’s actually a district: The District of Columbia. In D.C. the average credit card balance is $7,442, although the average median income is $46,536, which is one of the highest by comparison. Behind D.C. was Dallas — the first of several Texas locales to make the list. With an average credit card debt balance of  $7,171, the city wasn’t too far behind the top spot, but the median income in Dallas is a much lower $33,621.

Rounding out the top five cities were New York City, Houston, and San Antonio (giving Texas a cowboy hat trick, it would seem). It might not surprise you to learn that NYC has a high average debt load ($7,145) given its reputation for pricey real estate, but what may shock you is that the median income in the Big Apple is only $38,951. Meanwhile, Houston residents were found to have a median income of $33,244 but an average credit card balance of $7,121. Lastly San Antonio had easily the lowest median income in the top five ($29,124) although its $6,985 average debt wasn’t far behind eastern cousin, Houston.

Other cities in the top 10 include Baltimore, Atlanta, San Deigo, Seattle, and Dever. Elsewhere in the top 25, there were some big cities (Los Angles, Chicago) as well as some less thought about areas (California’s Inland Empire, Tampa). Notably, coming in at #23 in terms of debt, Orlando’s $28,004 median income was the lowest of any city on the list.

Overall this latest compilation of data shows that, across the nation, many consumers are turning to credit cards as a way to make ends meet. Unfortunately the reality is that these actions may not only saddle them with debt but could also be hurting their credit scores if their utilization is high. While there are no easy solutions to the problem, hopefully the continued strength of the American economy will help workers turn things around and bring down the record level of credit card debt our country currently holds.


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Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded DyerNews.com in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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