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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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Mark Washa
May 02, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Karen H. Drinking tap water is not a good way to save money. The Govt. endorsed fluoride is toxic scrubber waste from fertilizer production.

Mark Washa
May 02, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Karen H. Don't save money by drinking tap water. The phosphate plant toxic waste is put in there. Hydrofluorosilicic acid.

May 02, 2011 at 10:05 am

One late payment doesn't mess up your entire score and will barely affect it. If you are on top of your bills, you will make sure you pay it in enough time should it "get lost in the mail" that you can correct it. And, yes, FICO scores have been around for ages, not just the Bush administration! Please educate yourself.

May 01, 2011 at 7:01 pm

What? You Americans allow that kind of debt on credit cards? You must be paying a huge amount of interest to those money-guzzling banks. And you are complaining about U.S. taxes? You should reconsider who are the real bad guys. No, its not the State.

'Typical credit cards have interest rates between 7 and 36% in the U.S'

April 29, 2011 at 8:04 am

glenda = dumazz

April 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm

interesting that they are all in the South and/or Sunny climate except Seattle

Karen H.
April 27, 2011 at 8:25 am

I use my card for everything, but pay it off in full every month. There is NO reason to rack up debt, except maybe a life-threatening illness or injury.

Live within your means, people! If you ain't got the money for something, don't buy it! Get rid of cable, drink tap water, dump the isn't so hard.

Was Buf., Now Was.
April 26, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Does this study count you as having a balance when you pay it off in full every month? Because I regularly ring up about $3,000 in monthly charges, especially since most of my bills are auto-paid to the card, and since I pretty much never use cash, but it's always paid off. I don't think that means the same thing statistically as someone else who is struggling to pay off the same amount.

April 26, 2011 at 11:12 am

Glenda sweetheart... FICO scores have been around long before Bush was in office- not real sure where you have been.

April 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm

FICO scoring is a total load of crap. If you pay a bill by mailing it in, and the post office looses it, then your stupid credit score drops, and messes up everything. This is crap that was started while Bush was in office. Everything for big business, and to heck with the consumer.