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Texas town tops in credit card debt

By Marcie Geffner ·
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Posted: 9 am ET

The annual holiday season came and went four months ago, but some consumers may still be paying off their purchases, given that the average consumer owed more than $4,200 on his or her bank cards as of Dec. 31, 2010, according to new data from Experian, one of the three major credit reporting bureaus.

Consumers today have fewer bank cards, that number having dropped nearly 23 percent since 2007 to 1.97, or slightly less than two cards per person, on average. But the utilization of those cards jumped nearly 10 percent over the same time period, with consumers now utilizing more than 30 percent, on average, of their total available bank-card limits.

Carrying high balances affects a consumer's utilization rate, which plays a significant role in how his or her credit score is calculated, according to Maxine Sweet, vice president of public education at Experian.

"By carrying over credit card balances and utilizing a significant portion of their available balance, (consumers) can potentially negatively affect their credit scores, which can, in turn, hurt them when it comes to applying for other types of credit," Sweet said in a company statement. "It's important for consumers to get that debt under control before it has a lasting impact on their credit scores."

Experian also identified the 25 U.S. cities where consumers had the highest bank-card debt, on average, in December 2010. The top 10 and their average balances were:

1. San Antonio: $5,177 -- 21 percent higher than the national average.

2. Jacksonville, Fla.: $5,115.

3. Atlanta: $4,960.

4. Honolulu: $4,939.

5. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas: $4,936.

6. Norfolk, Va.: $4,925.

7. Seattle: $4,877.

8. Austin, Texas: $4,791.

9. Richmond, Va.: $4,771.

10. San Diego: $4,673.

The next 15 on the list were: Baltimore; Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Tallahassee, Fla.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Las Vegas; Washington, D.C.; Augusta, Ga.; Reno, Nev.; Spokane, Wash.; Savannah, Ga.; Phoenix; Miami; Montgomery, Ala.; and Orlando, Fla.

So, how high is your balance, and what's your plan -- if you have one -- to pay it off?

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff

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June 10, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Keep income higher than income outgo and you will never have money problems...problem is people can't do that...absolutely no financial discipline with most people...they gotta keep up with the Jones and that is how they wind up in the's a simple in losing weight it is just the opposite you burn more calories than you take in...wella!...there goes thirty pounds....see how simple these things work...bye...

June 07, 2011 at 11:37 am

I am paying down all credit accounts but every time i pay and the balance is low the credit card company cuts my limit which looks like i'm at the limit which effects my scores, can't wait to get rid of these cards also intrest rates are low but credit card company,banks are still very high.

June 06, 2011 at 8:27 am

I have a $9,100 balance on my Visa. Sometime this week, I will pay it off in full as I always do. Many years ago I bought a boat and motor for $19,000, charged it all to my card and paid it off when due. [Most vendors won't allow this large a charge, now.] I planned ahead, made sure I had the cash, made the purchase, and paid it off. Why use the card? To delay the withdrawal of cash from interest earning accounts and earn travel miles.

So, the questions. How much of that debt out there will be paid off on time without incurring interest charges? Is that debt only carry over debt? How would they know?

Credit cards can be very useful for tracking expenses and earning travel miles. But one should never buy anything that one can't pay for when purchased.

June 06, 2011 at 6:07 am

Who cares.
No kids, no life.

June 02, 2011 at 12:17 am

Balance? I grew up believing that if I didn't pay my bills on time someone would be sent to break my legs. I pay my bills when they come due. Period. No exceptions.

May 29, 2011 at 10:35 pm

I had 60K in credit card and loan debts, 12 tapped cards. Nothing I owned did I own, so one day I checked it all in a big garage sale, and then sub-leased my (of course) rental, and moved into my car. This while working for a company that fortunately had showers on campus. I figured 18 months best possible time to get debt free, but I did it in 14. And I kept it off, now 12 years, and no more credit cards, just a Visa debit card. Now Im married and we moved into her parent’s basement last year where we remodeled and built an apartment, so debt and rent free and together pull down a good amount (Im a computer scientist, she is a doctor). My inspiration came from stories where people lived well below their means and managed to save a million or more. We prefer a big bank account spread across three countries over a big house, any day. My credit report is a blank page, but my wife has a credit card to keep a pulse on hers, which I pay off several times a month. Everything is in Quicken, and we are paper-free as well, with everything scanned, encrypted, version controlled, backed up, and off-sited on blu-ray discs. We embrace a simple yet technologically heavy lifestyle of few, high value possessions, and very minimal clutter. It was considerable work, but once past the curve it is quite worth it. Downsize and optimize.