States with the Highest & Lowest Credit-Card Debts
Americans are known for racking up credit-card debt, but just how much we have in total is shocking. At the beginning of 2019, Americans owed over $1 trillion in credit-card debt. And though we repaid $38.2 billion in the first quarter of the year, we’re projected to have a $70 billion net increase by the end of the year.
Americans aren’t all in the same boat when it comes to credit-card debt, though. People in some states are better than others when it comes to avoiding charging more than they can afford. To determine which states have the least and most sustainable credit-card debts, WalletHub drew upon TransUnion credit data to calculate the cost and time required to pay off the median card balances of each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Read on for the full findings, commentary from a panel of experts and a detailed description of our methodology.
States with the Highest & Lowest Credit-Card Debts
Median Credit-Card Debt
Cost to Pay off
Months & Days Until Payoff
|1||Alaska||$4,144||$575||19 months and 11 days|
|2||District of Columbia||$3,242||$404||17 months and 12 days|
|3||Vermont||$2,227||$247||15 months and 14 days|
|4||Washington||$2,880||$313||15 months and 3 days|
|5||Colorado||$2,985||$324||15 months and 3 days|
|6||Oregon||$2,641||$282||14 months and 29 days|
|7||Wyoming||$2,712||$290||14 months and 29 days|
|8||Virginia||$3,081||$327||14 months and 26 days|
|9||Montana||$2,579||$269||14 months and 17 days|
|10||New Mexico||$2,613||$268||14 months and 7 days|
|11||Kansas||$2,574||$264||14 months and 7 days|
|12||Texas||$2,860||$292||14 months and 4 days|
|13||Idaho||$2,426||$247||14 months and 4 days|
|14||North Dakota||$2,385||$236||13 months and 24 days|
|15||Georgia||$2,786||$274||13 months and 22 days|
|16||Utah||$2,508||$246||13 months and 20 days|
|17||Massachusetts||$2,459||$241||13 months and 19 days|
|18||California||$2,672||$261||13 months and 18 days|
|19||Arizona||$2,686||$262||13 months and 17 days|
|20||Minnesota||$2,510||$245||13 months and 17 days|
|21||Oklahoma||$2,628||$255||13 months and 15 days|
|22||North Carolina||$2,593||$251||13 months and 14 days|
|23||New Hampshire||$2,511||$242||13 months and 11 days|
|24||Nevada||$2,645||$254||13 months and 9 days|
|25||Maryland||$2,819||$270||13 months and 8 days|
|26||Tennessee||$2,544||$243||13 months and 8 days|
|27||Michigan||$2,343||$224||13 months and 7 days|
|28||South Carolina||$2,579||$245||13 months and 4 days|
|29||Maine||$2,265||$214||13 months and 2 days|
|31||Wisconsin||$2,120||$197||12 months and 29 days|
|32||Missouri||$2,460||$228||12 months and 29 days|
|33||Florida||$2,603||$239||12 months and 22 days|
|34||New York||$2,600||$238||12 months and 22 days|
|35||Louisiana||$2,600||$237||12 months and 19 days|
|36||New Jersey||$2,701||$246||12 months and 19 days|
|37||Illinois||$2,665||$241||12 months and 17 days|
|38||Rhode Island||$2,392||$216||12 months and 15 days|
|39||Iowa||$2,091||$188||12 months and 14 days|
|40||West Virginia||$2,331||$210||12 months and 14 days|
|41||Nebraska||$2,302||$207||12 months and 13 days|
|42||Ohio||$2,325||$207||12 months and 9 days|
|43||Arkansas||$2,353||$202||11 months and 29 days|
|44||Hawaii||$2,868||$246||11 months and 28 days|
|45||South Dakota||$2,449||$209||11 months and 25 days|
|46||Delaware||$2,515||$213||11 months and 23 days|
|47||Pennsylvania||$2,344||$198||11 months and 21 days|
|48||Alabama||$2,451||$206||11 months and 19 days|
|49||Kentucky||$2,248||$187||11 months and 14 days|
|50||Mississippi||$2,258||$170||10 months and 9 days|
|51||Indiana||$2,313||$167||9 months and 29 days|
*1 = Least Sustainable Credit-Card Debt
With record-setting projections for credit-card debt in 2019, we asked a panel of credit experts to shed light on the unsustainable credit behavior that leads to such negative results and their effects on the economy. Click on the experts’ profiles to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:
- What daily behaviors lead people to amass credit-card debt?
- What are the key situations when going into debt is worth it?
- What are three easy steps a person should take in order to become debt-free?
- What role, if any, should government play in incentivizing and encouraging people to maintain low debt-to-income ratios (e.g., through tax incentives)?
In order to determine the states with the most and least sustainable credit-card debts, we first looked at the median credit-card balances and credit card payments of residents in each of 50 states and the District of Columbia as of September 2018, based on TransUnion data. Our analysis includes credit cards that carried a balance and excludes store cards.
Using the median credit-card balance and monthly credit card payment of residents in each state, we determined the required number of months to pay off that balance and the resulting finance charges. In order to do so, we made the following assumption:
- Consumers would pay an average 16.91 percent interest rate, based on the APR paid by existing cardholders, according to the average interest rate assessed on accounts with finance charges. Using that percentage, we computed the cost of paying off the state’s median credit-card balance.
Finally, we ranked the states based on the calculator’s outputs. Rank 1 corresponds with the state with the least sustainable credit-card debt — that is, the state with the longest payoff timeline.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Reserve and TransUnion.
Image: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com
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