DC tops national credit card debt list; Baltimore ranks 6th

WASHINGTON — Do you have a hefty balance on your credit card each month?

If so, it turns out you’re not alone in the D.C. area.

According to a study by CreditCards.com, residents of Washington and Baltimore are in the top-10 nationally when it comes to their average monthly card balance.

In the District, it’s over $7,400. In Baltimore it’s just shy of $7,000.

But the analysis shows that thanks to higher earnings in the D.C. area, that debt load is not as burdensome as it is in other cities across the U.S.

For example, in San Antonio, the average credit card balance is $7,070, but since the median income is much lower in that big Texas city (just over $29,000), that bill is harder to pay off.

Other cities in the top 5 are Dallas, New York and Houston.

  • Washington, D.C. ($7,442)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth ($7,171)
  • New York ($7,145)
  • Houston ($7,121)
  • San Antonio ($7,070)
  • Baltimore ($6,985)

But the list looks quite different when you consider other factors like average income and how long it would take to pay off those hefty credit card balances.

If you lived in San Antonio, the site estimates you would need almost two years to pay off the bill and you’d accrue over $900 in interest charges. Other cities whose residents have a heavy debt burden include Miami and Los Angeles.

  • San Antonio (22 months, $911 interest)
  • Miami (21 months, $814)
  • Houston (20 months, $799)
  • Los Angeles (20 months, $745)
  • Dallas (19 months, $801)

The residents of those debt-heavy cities would be smart to emulate residents of Seattle, Boston, Minneapolis and Detroit, who keep their debt costs low due to a combination of light spending and higher average incomes.

  • Seattle (15 months, $577 interest)
  • Washington (14 months, $613)
  • Boston (14 months, $524)
  • Minneapolis (14 months, $493)
  • San Francisco (13 months, $495)

The city that may have the best overall credit health? CreditCards.com gave Minneapolis that honor.

Residents of the Twin Cities are in better shape financially than their counterparts in places like Washington and San Francisco, whose high credit card debt is set off by their strong annual earnings.

The site used a recently created money-management ranking known as VantageScore as evidence. Minneapolis-area residents have a score six points higher (709 points) than those in San Francisco.

As to why? Analysts are not sure. An expert from Experian said it could be that the cold weather keeps people from getting out and spending money.

However, a credit counselor from the area quoted by CreditCards.com said it could be that folks from up north are just tighter with their pocketbooks.

“When things start to get tight, they tend to pull back,” said Raye Ann Hoffman of Credit Counseling of Minnesota.

Dan Friedell

Dan Friedell is a digital writer for WTOP. He came to the D.C. area in 2007 to work as digital editor for USATODAY.com, and since then has worked for a number of local and national news organizations.

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