Loaded with pandemic-related emergency aid and little to spend thanks to COVID-19 lockdowns, American consumers paid off a record amount of their credit card balances in 2020. But since then, they have returned to their habitual vice of carrying higher amounts of high-interest unsecured consumer debt.
Consumers added $87.3 billion to their credit card balances in 2021 after paying off $82.1 billion in credit card debt in 2020, according to online personal finance information provider WalletHub. . US consumers had credit card balances totaling $1.02 trillion in the fourth quarter of last year. The average credit card debt for a US household was $8,590 at the end of this quarter.
To identify the cities paying the most credit card debt, 24/7 Wall St. looked at WalletHub‘s ranking of average credit card repayments for 182 US cities. All data is from the report, except for the median household income figures, which are from five-year estimates from the Census Bureau’s 2019 U.S. Community Survey. To create its report, WalletHub used data from the Census Bureau, Federal Reserve, TransUnion, and Bureau of Labor Statistics.
High levels of debt tend to be correlated with high levels of repayment as consumers (at least those who don’t go into insolvency) try to reduce their debts. But it’s not always the case. Some debtors are barely able to scrounge up the cash to pay their minimum balances (plus interest) from month to month, while others manage to spend larger amounts on those monthly payments.
For example, plastic debtors in Pearl City, Hawaii owed an average of $16,126 on their cards at the end of 2021, but only paid back $908 throughout the year. By contrast, debtors in Santa Clarita, Calif., who have an average of $14,995 in credit card debt, reduced their balances by $4,715 during the year, according to WalletHub. (California and Hawaii are among the states with the highest cost of living. This state has the highest cost of living.)
Among the top 25 cities where debtors paid off the most credit card debt in 2021, the average debt was $12,378 at the end of 2021 and the average repayment was $2,879. But people don’t just have credit card debt. These are the 50 most indebted US counties by students.
Click here to see which cities pay off credit card debt the most