America's credit card debt is the highest it's ever been, surpassing $1 trillion in 2017, according to Federal Reserve data. But where in the U.S. is that debt concentrated the most?
A new analysis by CreditCards.com identifies the cities where people are struggling with the highest average credit card debt. The study only reviewed the 25 most populous metropolitan areas, and ranked them accordingly.
The Washington, D.C., Dallas-Fort Worth and New York metropolitan areas have the highest average debt in absolute terms.
But Washington, D.C., ranks among the lowest in terms of credit card burden. That's because it has the highest median income on the list.
The survey calculated which cities feel the heaviest debt burden based upon average debt relative to median income.
That analysis evaluated how long it would take someone earning their metro area's median income to pay off their metro area's average credit card debt. That's assuming he or she allocated 15 percent of gross monthly income toward paying off their debt, which CreditCards.com recommends.
The calculation also identifies how much interest he or she would pay in that duration, based on the average annual percentage rate of 13 percent, according to the Fed's January 2018 consumer credit report.
The San Antonio metro area ranked highest in debt burden, followed by Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach and then Houston.
Highest credit card debt burdens
- San Antonio (22 months, $911 interest)
- Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-West Palm Beach (21 months, $814 interest)
- Houston (20 months, $799 interest)
- Los Angeles (20 months, $745 interest)
- Dallas (19 months, $801 interest)
Lowest credit card debt burdens
- Seattle (15 months, $577 interest)
- Washington, D.C. (14 months, $613 interest)
- Boston (14 months, $524 interest)
- Minneapolis (14 months, $493 interest)
- San Francisco (13 months, $495 interest)
2018 is a crucial year for knocking out credit card debt, said Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com. That's because debt will only get more expensive as interest rates keep climbing. He sees delinquencies continuing to trend upward this year as debt and interest rates increase.
"What's troubling is that when people carry debt during good economic times, it makes them less likely to be putting away money for when times eventually turn bad," Schulz said.
The economy is good now, but when it turns a corner, "you could have a lot of people who could be in trouble," Schulz said.