Americans have a credit card debt problem, but residents in one region of the country are struggling the most with high balances.
That's according to a new study of credit card debt loads across the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. from CreditCards.com. Their research found that residents in Southern cities bear the highest credit card debt burden, with three Texas cities placing among the top five.
Demographics may be partly to blame, given these regions are more likely to be home to young families with higher expenses than older professionals and retirees. But income and frugality could also come into play, with residents in some regions more likely to earn enough to pay their bills off each month or to pare back spending and avoid debt.
Paying down credit-card debt is important because it helps consumers avoid getting socked with high interest rates, which can push debt levels higher. Interest rates are also on the rise, which will make that debt more costly over the long-term.
"Getting out of debt isn't easy, but it can be done with willpower and determination," said Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com's senior industry analyst, in a statement. "Consider a 0 percent balance transfer credit card with a long interest-free period. It may seem strange to combat credit card debt with a new credit card, but the truth is that used wisely, the right balance transfer card can save you a fortune in interest and shave months off the time needed to pay off that debt."
The study examined credit card balances in the each of the 25 largest metropolitan areas and median income. Even though San Antonio residents don't have the highest average credit card debt per bank cardholder, the city's median income is relatively low. That combination pushed the city into the top spot for the most credit-card debt burdened area, CreditCards.com said.
Below are the top five cities with the highest and lowest credit card debt burden. The figures in parenthesis explain how long it would take the typical resident to get out of debt by making minimum payments as well as their annual interest costs.
Highest credit card debt burdens
- San Antonio (22 months, $911 interest)
- Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/West Palm Beach (21 months, $814 interest)
- Houston (20 months, $799 interest)
- Los Angeles (20 months, $745 interest)
- Dallas (19 months, $801 interest)
Lowest credit card debt burdens:
21. Seattle (15 months, $577 interest)
22. Washington, D.C. (14 months, $613 interest)
23. Boston (14 months, $524 interest)
24. Minneapolis (14 months, $493 interest)
25. San Francisco (13 months, $495 interest)