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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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May 29, 2011 at 9:32 am

Texas is a non-garnishable state a haven for those wanting to avoid paying their debt

May 29, 2011 at 8:44 am

It is funny you yanks have borrowed from the whole world and that is what makes you so strong. Go on borrow more guys!

ken hunter
May 19, 2011 at 7:32 am

Wow a liberal blamed this one on Bush. Stop it Stop it Bush doesn't run the credit bureau's

May 16, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Remember the old days, when everything didn't revolve around credit scores. As long as you paid your monthly payment on time, it didn't matter how much of your credit limit that you used. If you missed a payment on one thing, it didn't mess up your entire credit rating. The credit card companies loved for you to use your line of credit, now they don't want you to use over 33 percent, because it again messes up your credit score. We're talking 10 years ago, before Bush got into the White House, and did everything for big business and credit card companies, and the Banks. What I would give for the old days, before we had credit scoring!

May 12, 2011 at 2:18 am

malcom.. San Antonio, Jacksonville, Dallas, Norfolk, Austin, Richmond are "liberal cities"? Are you serious?

Kevin.. That's an easy one. Debt goes up as income goes down. 'Tis the way of the world.

May 12, 2011 at 2:17 am

San Antonio, Jacksonville, Dallas, Norfolk, Austin, Richmond are "liberal cities"? Are you serious?

That's an easy one. Debt goes up as income goes down. 'Tis the way of the world.

May 09, 2011 at 11:11 am

Nice try Malcom, but it appears that red State Texas leads the way in credit card debt. since I live here, I think I know why -the car reigns supreme in Texas and other Southwestern States, there's not much in the way of outdoor activities. People shop for recreation, which puts them in temptation's way. Maybe I'm over thinking this, they could just be dumb tea baggers.

May 08, 2011 at 10:47 pm

I have zero credit problems, zero debt, and a growing nest egg.

Borrowing money, especially from companies that charge interest, goes against my personal code. That's like going to a loan-shark, but instead of them saying they are going to break your legs when you can't pay them back, they take your house.

I use debit-cards, and always will. Cash is king, of course.

I've seen my friends suffer the credit-card curse- having been preyed upon by the companies as soon as they got to college, graduating in debt up to $10,000. That is insanity.

What I can't understand about people is- how do they plan on retiring when they can't pay off debt? I am working hard and putting money away in investment funds, etc.... it's not easy! Meanwhile, some crazy person is driving a SUV while on their way to Wal-Mart to add another 200 USD to their credit-card debt.

.... then they COMPLAIN about gas-prices (which is very cheap in the USA, regardless).

By the way, I am a teacher, and I enjoy living in amazing places all over the world, and not necessarily cheap places; my family lives modestly and we have all the luxuries we need. No fancy cars, not too many meals out on the town.... we have everything we need, and no more.

Borrowing money and paying interest on it is weak. It's fine for businesses, but too many people think it's okay to charge that $3 Slurpee on their credit-card, and not thinking how it will actually cost them $30 by the time they pay it off, if ever.

May 07, 2011 at 8:18 am

hmm liberal cities is the link to all the cities. hmm strange?

May 04, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Interesting list... I wonder how it would change if it was set as a percentage of income.

I also pay roughly $2k-$4k/month on my cards... $0.00 balance! And I get $3k - $5k from my employer for travel expenses! Great thing about owning my truck... I make money on mileage, even though it guzzles gas like Congress spends money!