Washington ranks high for ‘maxed-out’ credit card holders

WASHINGTON — Credit card balances in the U.S. now total nearly $800 billion, according to the Federal Reserve, the highest since 2009, and Washington-area consumers account for a chunk of that.

LendingTree analyzed credit card data in the 50 largest metro areas, as provided by TransUnion, and ranked Washington No. 13 on its list of the “most maxed-out cities,” for where consumers have hit their limit on at least one card and are using a good portion of their total available credit.

In Washington, LendingTree says 16.4 percent of credit card holders are maxed-out on at least one of their cards. The average is at their credit limit on 1.35 cards.

San Diego, Los Angeles and San Antonio rank as the most maxed-out metros.

LendingTree says it’s not necessarily a warning sign.

Many consumers are very loyal to one card, and charging close to the limit to get the rewards points and paying it all off on time is a pattern than shows up in the data as using nearly 100 percent of a card’s limit.

But its rankings also considered how high balances across all cards are versus a consumers total credit limits, and revolving credit utilization, to see how deep consumers are dipping into their overall credit and how likely they are to carry a balance.

In Washington, the average cardholder is using 30.1 percent of their available credit lines.

You can see LendingTree’s rankings of Most Maxed-Out cities at its website.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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