The Places Where Americans Have the Most 5-Figure Credit Card Debt

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Despite an overall reduction in credit card debt in the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic, the percentage of cardholders in America’s biggest metros with balances of $10,000 or more has risen slightly since 2019, according to new data from LendingTree.

Once again, the metro with the highest percentage is Bridgeport, Conn.

LendingTree analyzed anonymized credit report data from more than 2.5 million LendingTree app users to see which of the 100 largest metros have the most credit cardholders with five-figure balances. 

What analysts found is that most of the metros with the highest percentages of people with 5-figure credit card debt are clustered along the East Coast, while the metros with the smallest percentages were most likely found in the Rust Belt or the South.

Image Credit: Depositphotos.

Methodology

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LendingTree used an anonymized sample of credit reports (April 1 to June 7, 2021) from more than 2.5 million LendingTree app users with active credit cards (excluding charge cards).

Their total balances were then calculated, and the results were aggregated across the 100 most populous metropolitan statistical areas to determine the percentage of cardholders who owe more than $10,000 across all their active cards and the percentage who owe more than $50,000.

Image Credit: Farknot_Architect / istockphoto.

5-figure credit card debt becomes more common

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It’s been well-chronicled that Americans paid down significant amounts of credit card debt during the pandemic. Thanks to reduced spending, government recovery payments and other factors, card debt in the U.S. fell from $927 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019 to $770 billion in the first quarter of 2021. That’s a significant decline.

That doesn’t mean that everyone’s debt went down, though. LendingTree’s latest report shows that the percentage of Americans with five-figure credit card debt grew from 15.5% in 2019 to 17% in 2021.

The growth wasn’t huge — just a percentage point and a half — but it’s still significant, especially during an economically volatile time like the one we’re currently facing.

The percentage owing $50,000 or more grew, too, from 0.6% in 2019 to 1.1% now.

Image Credit: Damir Khabirov / iStock.

Tie-26. Tampa, Florida

iStock 1219875809.original
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 18.40%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.40%

Image Credit: miroslav_1 / istockphoto.

Tie-26. San Antonio

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  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 18.40%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.20%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.

Tie-26. Atlanta

Depositphotos 40497319 s 2019.original
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 18.40%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.30%

Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Tie-26. Allentown, Pennsylvania

iStock 1159500353.original
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 18.40%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.00%

Image Credit: Ultima_Gaina / istockphoto.

Tie-24. San Jose, California

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  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 18.70%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.40%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tie-24. Baltimore

Depositphotos 11609044 s 2019.original
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 18.70%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.50%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

23. Providence, Rhode Island

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  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 19.00%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.20%

Image Credit: istockphoto.

22. Virginia Beach, Virginia

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  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 19.10%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.50%

Image Credit: DenisTangneyJr.

Tie-18. Jacksonville, Florida

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  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 19.20%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.20%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tie-18. Denver

Depositphotos 44560035 s 2019.original
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 19.20%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.30%

Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Tie-18. Dallas

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  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 19.20%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.50%

Image Credit: typhoonski.

Tie-18. Charleston, South Carolina

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  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 19.20%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.20%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tie-16. Worcester, Massachusetts

Depositphotos 177080046 s 2019.original
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 19.30%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.20%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tie-16. Boston

Depositphotos 205355564 m 2015.original 2
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 19.30%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.40%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tie-14. San Francisco

Depositphotos 39033575 m 2015.original 1
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 19.40%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.50%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tie-14. Los Angeles

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  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 19.40%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.60%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

13. North Port, Florida

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  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 19.50%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.50%

Image Credit: Rino Landa.

12. Honolulu

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  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 19.60%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 2.20%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

11. San Diego

Depositphotos 20815935 m 2015.original 1
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 19.80%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.50%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

10. Houston

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  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 20.00%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.60%

Image Credit: RoschetzkyIstockPhoto.

9. New Haven, Connecticut

Depositphotos 204984472 s 2019.original
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 20.10%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.10%

Image Credit: .

8. Poughkeepsie, New York

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  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 20.30%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.40%

Image Credit: Boogich.

Tie-6. Hartford, Connecticut

Depositphotos 34261381 s 2019.original
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 20.80%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.30%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tie-6. Austin, Texas

Depositphotos 82268786 m 2015.original 2
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 20.80%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.70%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tie-4. Oxnard, California

Depositphotos 154922010 s 2019.original
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 21.00%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.60%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tie-4. New York City

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  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 21.00%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.90%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

3. Miami

iStock 1147016023.original 1
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 21.20%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 1.80%

Image Credit: espiegle/istockphoto.

2. Washington, D.C.

GettyImages 925908850.original 3
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 21.80%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 2.10%

Image Credit: dkfielding.

1. Bridgeport, Connecticut

Depositphotos 95444508 s 2019.original
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $10,000 24.30%
  • Percentage of cardholders who owe at least $50,000 2.60%

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

No matter where you live, focus on paying down that debt

5-figure credit card debt

I’ve been in the five-figure credit card debt club while living in a big, expensive city. It’s awful, and it pretty much consumes your life until you escape it. It took me about five years — and a couple of significant pay raises — to finally eliminate that credit card debt. More than 20 years later, the memories of that struggle are still fresh, and I hope never to return to that place.

If you’re still struggling with credit card debt, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Yes, life is crazy expensive in 2021, especially in places like New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., but there are still steps that you can take to help yourself.

  • Make a budget: You can’t make a meaningful plan to tackle your credit card debt if you don’t know how much you’re bringing in and how much you’re spending on a regular basis. Take the time to write down all your recurring bills and then track all your other spending for a couple of weeks. Once you’ve collected the data, compare those expenses to your income. It may not be a pleasant experience, but it will give you a feel for whether you need to focus your efforts on cutting back expenses or increasing income — or perhaps a little of both.
  • Bump up your payments, even just a little: Adding an extra $5 or $10 to your credit card payment doesn’t sound like much, but it can be significant if added up over the life of your debt.
  • Set up autopay: Having debt is stressful, and we all have to-do lists that are 100 miles long. Setting up automatic payments for your credit card means there’s one less thing that you have to do. Plus, it will ensure that you’re never late with a payment again, which helps protect your credit. Just make sure that you pay more than the minimum each time, or you’re asking for trouble.
  • Ask for a lower APR: A March 2021 LendingTree survey showed that 83% of cardholders who asked their card issuer for a lower APR got their request granted, and the average reduction was about 10 percentage points. That can make a huge difference in your ability to pay off your debt and save you hundreds of dollars and several months in payoff time, depending on how much you owe. And that success rate means that it’s not just people with perfect credit who are getting their way. The problem is that far too few people ask. Don’t let fear or nervousness cost you money. Make the call.
  • Get a 0% balance transfer card: It may sound strange to tackle credit card debt by getting yourself yet another credit card but, used wisely, a 0% balance transfer credit card can be a godsend. These cards often offer 12 to 18 months with no interest on transferred balances, which can lead to really significant savings and shortening of payoff time. You will need decent credit to get one, though. It’s also important to understand the fees, maximums and other fine print that comes with the card. Balance transfer cards can be a little confusing, but they can save you a ton of money if you know how to use them.

This article originally appeared on LendingTree.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.