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Americans are struggling with credit card debt at record levels. Consumers in the U.S. carry a combined total of $986 billion dollars in credit card debt as of Q4 2022. That figure represents a $131 million increase since Q4 of 2021 and exceeds the pre-pandemic high of $927 billion.
As inflation erodes the value of everyone’s money, increasing numbers of consumers are relying on credit to make ends meet and cover the cost of everyday purchases. However, residents in some states have a greater reliance on credit than others and are more likely to accrue debt that they can’t afford to pay off each month.
To determine which states are struggling with credit card debt the most, Forbes Advisor analyzed credit card debt and delinquency data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Our ranking considers factors such as credit card debt as a percentage of income, average credit card debt, delinquency rates and year-over-year changes in these categories.
- The District of Columbia tops the list as the place where residents are struggling to manage their credit card debt. The district saw a 15% increase in credit card debt from Q4 2021 to Q4 2022 and delinquency rates rose 9% during the same time period.
- Along with the district, Nevada, Texas, Florida and Georgia round out the top five states that struggle the most with credit card debt.
- The five states that struggle the least with credit card debt are Nebraska, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Utah and South Dakota.
- Five of the 10 most populous states in the U.S. rank among the top 10 states that are struggling the most with credit card debt—Texas, Florida, Georgia, New York and North Carolina.
- Between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022, average credit card debt rose in all 50 states and the district, but credit card delinquency rates (the percentage of balances that are 90 days past-due or worse) declined in all but two places: D.C. and West Virginia.
- Nationwide, credit card debt rose by 13.73% and delinquency rate fell by 8.39%.
Top 5 States Where Residents Are Struggling the Most With Credit Card Debt
1. The District of Columbia
District of Columbia’s Score: 100 out of 100
As of Q4 2022, the average credit card debt in the district is $4,660—the highest nationwide. The District of Columbia has the second highest household income in the country. Nonetheless, the district still ranks 14th highest for credit card debt as percentage of income (5.14%).
When you examine the year-over-year change from Q4 2021 to Q4 2022, the nation’s capital ranked seventh highest with a 15% increase in credit card debt. During the same time period (Q4 2021 to Q4 2022), the credit card delinquency rate in the district rose by almost 9%—the highest increase nationwide and one of only two locations in the country to have an increase in this area.
Nevada’s Score: 98.0 out of 100
At 6%, Nevada has the second-highest credit card debt as a percentage of income. The Silver State also had the eighth-highest increase in credit card debt nationwide of 15.22% between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022 ($3,050 to $3,860).
Although Nevada has the highest delinquency rate at 10.52%, there is sign of improvement among the state’s credit card holders as well. Delinquency rates dropped 12.33% between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022.
Texas’s Score: 95.7 out of 100
The state of Texas has the fourth highest credit card delinquency rate in the country at 8.67% as of Q4 2022. At 5.24%, the Lone Star State also has the seventh highest credit card debt as a percentage of income.
Texas saw the 11th-highest change in credit card debt nationwide between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022. During that time frame, average credit card debt in the state rose by 14.42% from $3,190 to $3,650.
Florida’s Score: 95.1 out of 100
Florida is the state with the highest credit card debt relative to income at 6.60%. The state’s average credit card debt is $3,940 and ranks ninth highest in the country.
The Sunshine State also has the third credit card highest delinquency rate at 9.37%. On a positive note, Florida has experienced considerable improvement in its delinquency rate—dropping by 12.10% between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022.
Georgia’s Score: 90.7 out of 100
Georgia ranks as the state with the third-highest credit debt relative to household income at 5.90%. At the same time, the Peach State also has the seventh-highest credit card delinquency rate at 8.42%.
While Georgia’s residents did see a drop in credit card delinquency rates between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022, those rates didn’t fall as quickly as they did on a national level. Credit card debt fell by 8.39% nationwide during that time period. However, credit card debt decreased by just 5.5% in Georgia.
Bottom 5 States Where Residents Are Struggling the Least With Credit Card Debt
Nebraska’s Score: 0 out of 100
At 3.90%, Nebraska has the third-lowest credit card debt as a percentage of income in the country. Residents of the Cornhusker State have a median household income of $78,109 compared to an average credit card debt amount of $3,050.
The state also has the fifth-lowest change in credit card debt between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022 at 11.72%. And Nebraska saw a sizable drop of 9.38% in credit card delinquency rates during the same period—the 15th largest drop in delinquency rates in the country.
Wisconsin’s Score: 2.0 out of 100
Wisconsin had the lowest credit card delinquency rate of 4.94% in Q4 2022. The state’s average credit card debt during that same period was $2,820—the eighth-lowest figure nationwide.
The Badger State is one of 17 states where the average credit card debt falls below $3,000. And credit card debt as a percentage of income in the state of Wisconsin is a low 4.03%—the ninth lowest ranking out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
3. New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s Score: 6.2 out of 100
The state of New Hampshire comes in seventh in the country for both its credit card delinquency rate (5.74%) and its change in delinquency rate from Q4 2021 to Q4 2022 (-12.50%). The Granite State also ranks 10th lowest for credit card debt as a percentage of income at 4.10%.
New Hampshire residents experienced the 11th-lowest change in credit card debt levels between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022. Average credit card debt only increased from $3,240 to $3,640 in the state during that period.
Utah’s Score: 16.0 out of 100
Utah ties (with Ohio) for the state with the lowest credit card debt as a percentage of income at 3.81%. The state also has the second lowest credit card delinquency rate for Q4 2022 at 4.95%.
One area in which Utah did not perform well, however, was the change in credit card debt from Q4 2021 to Q4 2022. The state ranked second highest in that metric at 16.38%. Average credit card debt in Utah rose from $2,870 to $3,340.
5. South Dakota
South Dakota’s Score: 16.1 out of 100
The state of South Dakota ranks eighth lowest for credit card debt as a percentage of income at 4.01%. The Mount Rushmore State is the ninth lowest for its change in credit card debt level between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022 at 12.12%. Average credit card debt in the state increased from $2,640 to $2,960 during that time period.
South Dakota also saw improvement in its credit card delinquency rate. Yet the rate didn’t decrease as quickly in the state as it did in the rest of the country. In South Dakota, the delinquency rate dropped by 5.12% from Q4 2021 to Q4 2022 compared to a national decrease of 8.39%.
Best Tools To Pay Down Credit Card Debt
Credit card debt is a normal part of life for many Americans in 2022. Nonetheless, the best way to manage a credit card account is to pay off your full balance every month. On-time payments are also essential to protect your credit score and to avoid late payment penalties.
When you pay off your credit card balance each month you can enjoy the many benefits your account has to offer without spending your hard-earned money on interest charges. A well-managed credit card might help you build credit, earn rewards and much more. Keeping your credit card balance low may also help your credit score as credit card utilization rate makes up 30% of your FICO credit score.
If you have credit card debt, it’s important to come up with a plan. Even if you’ve overspent on your credit cards in the past, it’s possible to pay down your debt so you can improve your credit and your finances in the future.
Below are three tools that might help if you’re looking for ways to reduce your credit card debt.
- Debt Payoff Strategy: Research credit card payoff strategies to find the best fit for your situation. For example, you might choose to eliminate your smallest credit card balances first (the debt snowball strategy) or focus on paying off your credit cards with the highest interest rates first (the debt avalanche strategy) depending on your goals.
- Balance Transfer Card: Applying for a balance transfer credit card with a 0% introductory APR offer has the potential to save you money while you’re working to pay down your credit card debt. If you can avoid future overspending, a 0% APR offer can make sure your payments go toward chipping away your principal balance rather than high-cost interest charges, at least for a limited time. Just be sure to do the math and confirm that a balance transfer makes sense after you factor in the cost of the balance transfer fee.
- Debt Consolidation Loan: Another option for consolidating credit card debt is to use a personal loan. If you can qualify for a debt consolidation loan with a lower interest rate than you’re paying on your current credit cards, you could save money, get out of debt faster and improve your credit along the way.
It’s important to research the pros and cons of balance transfer credit cards or any other debt consolidation option before you move forward. And if you do decide to apply for a new credit card or personal loan to consolidate your credit card debt, compare offers from multiple lenders or credit card companies to make sure you find the best deal available.
Find The Best Credit Cards For 2023
No single credit card is the best option for every family, every purchase or every budget. We've picked the best credit cards in a way designed to be the most helpful to the widest variety of readers.
To determine which states are struggling the most (and least) with credit card debt, Forbes Advisor analyzed data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the following five metrics:
- Credit card debt as a percentage of income (30% of total score): Data on average credit card debt comes from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for Q4 2022. Data on income comes from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis for 2021.
- Change in average credit card debt (20% of total score): We looked at a one-year change in average credit card debt. Data is from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for Q4 2021 and Q4 2022.
- Average credit card debt (10% of total score): Data comes from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for Q4 2022.
- Credit card delinquency rate (25% of total score): This is a percentage of credit card balances that are late by 90 days or more. Data comes from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for Q4 2022.
- Change in credit card delinquency rate (15% of total score): We looked at a one-year change in credit card delinquency rate. Data is from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for Q4 2021 and Q4 2022.
Based on these five metrics and the weighting outlined above, we determined a score for all 50 states and the district.
Top 10 states with the lowest credit card balance
On average, Iowans have the lowest balance at $4,774.
- Alaska: $11,277.
- Hawai'i: $10,190.
- Virginia: $9,176.
- Maryland: $9,120.
- Connecticut: $9,088.
- New Jersey: $8,956.
- Colorado: $8,906.
- Georgia: $8,699.
Average American Credit Card Debt by State
In 2021, the national average credit card balance was $5,525. Alaska had the highest average balance in the U.S. in 2020, with $6,617, which was 12% higher than the national average of $5,897 for that year.
A third poll, from the personal finance website GOBankingRates, found that 14 million Americans owe more than $10,000 in credit-card debt. Card balances are rising at a time when consumers may find it harder than ever to pay them down.What state in the United States has the least debt? ›
- Texas. Texas has the lowest debt of any state in the U.S. Texas's total liabilities add up to $222.64 billion, and its total assets add up to $356.01 billion, giving Texas the highest net position in the country of $115.08 billion. ...
- Florida. ...
- Alaska. ...
- North Carolina. ...
Top 10 states with the lowest credit scores
Southern states had lower average credit scores than the rest of the country, despite all states experiencing a boost (between 3 and ten points) in credit scores compared to 2019. Here are the top 10 states with the lowest credit scores in 2020: Mississippi: 675.
This chart shows the U.S. cities with the highest municipal debts per taxpayer (in U.S. dollars). New York City has the biggest deficit out of the 75 most populous cities in the U.S., put at a whopping $171.5 billion in 2021 by the organization.Are most Americans in credit card debt? ›
Most Americans have some credit card debt. A recent GOBankingRates survey found that 30% of Americans have between $1,001 and $5,000 in credit card debt, 15% have $5,001 or more in credit card debt and about 6% have more than $10,000 in credit card debt.Why do most Americans have credit card debt? ›
People are paying more for food, housing and gas. Generally, it's the practical stuff that gets people into credit card debt," said Ted Rossman, credit expert at CreditCards.com. "It's all contributing to increased balances."What state do people have the most debt? ›
Networks by Purchase Volume
In terms of purchasing volume, Visa is the clear leader with more than $2 trillion in 2021. Mastercard is the second-closest competitor with over $1 trillion. American Express and Discover round out the networks at $892 billion and $182 billion, respectively.
Accounting for 70% of all American debt, mortgage debt carries the highest total at $10.44 trillion.Why do so many people struggle with credit card debt? ›
Americans are drowning in credit card debt thanks to inflation and soaring interest rates. Americans credit card debt is now back to pre-pandemic levels. Credit card debt skyrocketed during the last three months of 2022, as Americans shopped their way through the holidays and potentially into financial trouble.Do most Americans have no credit card debt? ›
A total of 35 percent of Americans carry credit card debt from month to month, according to a January 2023 Bankrate survey of 2,458 U.S. adults— an increase of 6 percent from 2022.Are Americans struggling financially? ›
Some 70% of Americans admit to being stressed about their personal finances these days and a majority — 52% — of U.S. adults said their financial stress has increased since before the Covid-19 pandemic began in March 2020, according to a new CNBC Your Money Financial Confidence Survey conducted in partnership with ...What place has the least amount of debt? ›
|Characteristic||National debt in relation to GDP|
|Hong Kong SAR||2.13%|
Japan. Japan held $1.08 trillion in Treasury securities as of November 2022, beating out China as the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt.3 The low and negative yield market in Japan makes holding U.S. debt attractive.Who has the least debt as a country? ›
- Brunei. 3.2%
- Afghanistan. 7.8%
- Kuwait. 11.5%
- Democratic Republic of Congo. 15.2%
- Eswatini. 15.5%
- Palestine. 16.4%
- Russia. 17.8%
- Birmingham, Alabama. Average Credit Score: 653. ...
- Savannah, Georgia. Average Credit Score: 652. ...
- Fayetteville, North Carolina. Average Credit Score: 651. ...
- Knoxville, Tennessee (tied) ...
- Mobile, Alabama (tied) ...
- Columbia, South Carolina. ...
- Corpus Christi, Texas (tied) ...
- Detroit, Michigan (tied)
For most credit-scoring models, including VantageScore 3.0 and FICO, the highest credit score possible is 850. We were able to speak to two Americans who belong to the exclusive FICO 850 Club: Brad Stevens of Austin, Texas, and John Ulzheimer of Atlanta.
- Poor: 300-579.
- Fair: 580-669.
- Good: 670-739.
- Very Good: 740-799.
- Exceptional: 800-850.
|State||Debt in billion U.S. dollars|
Which countries hold the most US debt? Over the past 20 years, Japan and China have owned more US Treasuries than any other foreign nation. Between 2000 and 2022, Japan grew from owning $534 billion to just over $1 trillion, while China's ownership grew from $101 billion to $855 billion.What city has the most credit card debt? ›
Collectively, New York holds the most credit card debt at just under $50 billion total.What percentage of US citizens have a credit card? ›
How Many Americans Use Credit Cards? 84% of U.S. adults had a credit card in 2021. About 73% of Americans have a credit card by age 25, making credit cards the most common first credit experience for young adults.Are most American in debt? ›
How much debt does the average American have? The same 2021 study from Experian shows that the average American has a consumer debt balance of $96,371, up 3.9% from 2020.Why are so many American in debt? ›
This past year has been an expensive one: The cost of living is rising faster than incomes, forcing many Americans to take on more debt to make ends meet. And interest rates that have increased in response to inflation are making debt more costly.Is any state in the US not in debt? ›
States With the Least Debt in 2020
Alaska takes the No. 1 spot, with a tiny debt ratio of only 14.2%. Its total liabilities amount to only $12.65 billion compared to total assets of approximately $89.17 billion in 2019.
(Credit Karma) Credit card accounts 30 to 59 days past due rose by 6.1 percent between 2020 and 2021 (Experian®) Individuals making $184,000 or more per year have the most credit card debt at an average of $12,600 (Federal Reserve) The total credit card debt in America as of 2021 was $784.5 billion.Who has the worst debt? ›
|Country/Region||External debt US dollars||% of GDP|
|United States||31 trillion||121.08|
|United Kingdom||8.73 trillion||273.06|
Credit Card Issuers With the Most Cardholders
One way of determining the largest credit card companies is by the number of active accounts. In 2021, Chase recorded the highest total number of cardholders at 149.3 million.
- American Express.
- Bank of America.
- Capital One.
Albert Gonzalez (born 1981) is an American computer hacker, computer criminal and police informer, who is accused of masterminding the combined credit card theft and subsequent reselling of more than 170 million card and ATM numbers from 2005 to 2007, the biggest such fraud in history.How many Americans live paycheck to paycheck? ›
Today's Paycheck-to-Paycheck Landscape
As of January 2023, 60% of United States adults, including more than four in 10 high-income consumers, live paycheck to paycheck, down 4 percentage points from January 2022.
It can be difficult to get out of debt quickly. The average person should be debt free by the age of 58, unless you choose to extend your payments. Otherwise, you could potentially be making payments for another two decades before you become debt free.What are 3 of the top sources of Americans debt? ›
That includes mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and student loans.Why are credit cards a problem? ›
These high interest rates, and how quickly they can result in mounting debt balances, are some of the biggest downsides of credit cards. But if you can pay your balance down in full and on time, there are plenty of benefits too — like the convenience, valuable perks and rewards and added consumer protections.What are the main causes of debt? ›
- Low income or underemployment. ...
- Divorce and relationship breakdown. ...
- Poor money management. ...
- High costs of living. ...
- Overuse of credit cards. ...
- Unexpected expenses. ...
- Declining health and medical expenses. ...
- Job loss.
The financial situation of Americans has done kind of a 180 in the last couple years. We went from having one of the highest personal savings rates on record in 2021 to one of the lowest on record. And credit card debt is rising at a record pace after having dipped way down in 2021.Can you live in America without debt? ›
It might appear impossible, but many consumers succeed in living their entire lives without any debt. People of a variety of ages and income levels have made this choice. It's not an easy feat, but if it's something you truly want, don't let naysayers talk you out of it.
A November 2022 LendingTree survey found that just 35% of cardholders say they always pay their credit card balance in full every month, while 65% say they carry a balance at least some of the time. Nearly half (46%) of those cardholders who have card debt say it would take them at least a year to pay it off.How can I avoid credit card debt? ›
The best way to avoid credit card debt is to pay your balance in full each month. In order to reach this goal, make sure you're only spending within your means.How many Americans can't pay their bills? ›
About 36% of consumers say it has been "somewhat" to "very difficult" for them to pay their usual bills in the last seven days, according to the Census Bureau's most recent Household Pulse survey, which gathered responses during the first two weeks of February.What are Americans struggling with? ›
Throughout 2022, the American economy and inflation were among the most concerning issues to Americans, according to polls from the Pew Research Center, Gallup and others. And not without warrant: Prices hit a four-decade high over the summer, though inflation has cooled some since then.What percent of Americans are financially free? ›
Nearly half of U.S. adults reported in a new survey that their parents still pay some or all of their bills. Half of all adults report either full or some financial dependence in Surety First's report – those who are fully financially independent only account for 28.5%.Is there any US state not in debt? ›
By contrast, Alaska and Wyoming had the lowest levels of state government debt at just under $5 billion each. This can be attributed to their relatively diverse sources of income such as energy revenues, mineral royalties and taxes.What states have no credit card fee? ›
States that prohibit credit card surcharges and convenience fees. Ten states prohibit credit card surcharges and convenience fees: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas.What percentage of Americans have 0 credit card debt? ›
Nearly 15% of respondents said they have no credit card debt — and no savings. "It is quite stunning that such a high percentage of adults have no savings and no credit card debt," Hamrick said.Who is the US most in debt with? ›
With $1.1 trillion in Treasury holdings, Japan is the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt. Japan surpassed China as the top holder in 2019 as China shed over $250 billion, or 30% of its holdings in four years.Which are the top ten states in debt? ›
The RBI has identified 10 states — Punjab, Rajasthan, Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana — to be the states with the highest debt burden. These 10 states account for around half of the total expenditure by all state governments in India.
You can swear off credit cards and survive. The ubiquitousness of credit cards makes it difficult to fathom a life without one, but it is possible. According to the Federal Reserve, over 80% of adult Americans have at least one credit card—meaning one in five of us live a credit card-less life.Can you live without credit in the US? ›
It may be possible to live without credit if you aren't already borrowing through student loans, a mortgage or other debt. Even so, living credit-free can be very difficult. Tasks such as finding an apartment or financing a car can become challenging obstacles without credit.Can I leave us without paying credit card? ›
While debt technically won't follow you abroad, you may suffer several consequences for trying to flee from it: you may be sued and have your wages garnished; your credit score will suffer; you may have to pay taxes on your debt. These are just a few consequences of leaving the country with unpaid debt.How many Americans are 100% debt free? ›
Fewer than one quarter of American households live debt-free.What percentage of people pay off their credit cards in full? ›
Unfortunately, most people with an active credit card account don't always pay their bills in full. A November 2022 LendingTree survey found that just 35% of cardholders say they always pay their credit card balance in full every month, while 65% say they carry a balance at least some of the time.What percentage of Americans live off of credit cards? ›
Over a third (35 percent) of all U.S. adults carry credit card debt from month to month, up from 29 percent last year. Of this group of debt carriers, 43 percent say they don't know the attached interest rates.