In America, we love our credit cards. In fact, in the second quarter of 2019 Americans collectively owed $868 billion according to recent research from The Ascent. This is a 4.7% increase in indebtedness compared with how much Americans collectively owed at the same time last year.
While Americans as a whole owe a lot of money, their credit card debt isn't distributed evenly by state, as The Ascent found in its secondary research on credit card debt in America. In fact, in the state with the highest average credit card debt, the average balance is more than $3,000 higher than the state where balances are the lowest.
How does your state compare? Let's find out!
These nine states have the highest credit card debt
Here are the nine states -- plus Washington, D.C. -- with the most credit card debt in 2019 according to Ascent’s research. They're in order from most to least indebted.
- Alaska, with an average balance of $7,726
- New Jersey, with an average balance of $6,881
- Connecticut, with an average balance of $6,876
- District of Columbia, with an average balance of $6,782
- Virginia, with an average balance of $6,773
- Maryland, with an average balance of $6,750
- Texas, with an average balance of $6,611
- Hawaii, with an average balance of $6,486
- Georgia, with an average balance of $6,459
- Florida, with an average balance of $6,340
In each of these states, average credit card balances are way above locales with the lowest balances in the country. By comparison, for example, Iowans owe the least with an average balance of just $4,622. Balances are also well above the national average balance for all Americans, which was $6,028 in 2019.
Unfortunately, in many states, these high balances are just one troubling indicator. Several of the states on the list, including Texas and Georgia, are also on the list of the 10 states where residents have the lowest Vantage Scores in the country.
High credit card balances are bad news
Whether your state ranks at the top of the list of most indebted locales or at the bottom, the fact more people in America are going into debt across the nation is bad news.
When people are in debt, more money goes to paying interest instead of saving for the future or buying new things. If people can't save for future goals such as buying a house or retirement, this can cause a financial crisis down the road if real estate prices fall, a new generation is saddled with loans, and tons of retirees struggle to survive. And, if people don't have the money to shop, it can spur a recession.
Unfortunately, it's unlikely most Americans are going to give up their dependence on credit any time soon, if growing balances are any indicator.
You don't have to carry credit card debt
Just because many Americans as a whole are in credit card debt doesn't mean you have to be. You can commit not to carry a balance and can live up to that commitment by living on a budget and building an emergency fund so you don't have to turn to credit cards to cover unexpected expenses. And, if you're already in debt, proven techniques such as the debt snowball method can help you pay it down faster if you commit to a debt repayment plan.
Do your part to help your state get off the list -- or stay off the list -- of the most indebted places in America by making a commitment today to become or stay debt free and not carry a credit card balance any longer.
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