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A Look at U.S. Consumer Credit Card Debt

Thanks to a healthy economy and low unemployment rate, Americans' confidence in their spending ability appears greater than ever. As such, Americans have steadily taken on more credit card debt over the past few years.

Still, it's important to be mindful of the amount of credit card debt you rack up because credit scores are affected by elements in your credit report, such as payment history (including the number of late payments you have) and credit utilization rate.

Here is a look at the current state of credit cards and debt.

Total U.S. Credit Card Debt

Total credit card debt in the U.S. has increased by 29% over the past five years, reaching $807 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019, according to the latest Experian data. In the past year, overall credit card debt has increased 6% in the U.S.

Overall Credit Card Debt
2019$807B
2018$764B
2017$717B
2016$661B
2015$624B
2014$596B
2013$585B
2012$591B
2011$565B
2010$629B
2009$715B

Note: Data is in billions and is from Q1 of each year
Source: Experian

Americans are increasingly relying on credit cards: 60.5% of Americans had a credit card as of Q1 2019. That's an 11% increase compared with the same quarter in 2016, and a 3% increased compared with Q1 2018.

The average credit card balance for Q1 2019 was $6,028, slightly down from the average balance in Q1 2018. Americans carry an average of four credit cards, with an average account history of seven years and two months.

Average Credit Card Debt
2019$6,028
2018$6,040
2017$5,884
2016$5,686
2015$5,571
2014$5,516

Note: Data is from Q1 of each year
Source: Experian

Credit Card Snapshot for Q1 2019
Average Number of Credit Cards4
Average Balance on Credit Cards$6,028
Average Limit on Credit Cards$22,589
Average Credit Card Account History7 years, 2 months
Percentage of Americans With a Credit Card60.5%

Source: Experian

Credit Card Debt by State

Every state saw an increase to its average credit card debt compared with the previous year. Hawaii, whose average credit card debt increased by 3.4% over the past year, experienced the biggest growth.

The states with the smallest average increases in credit card debt were Arkansas and Wisconsin, tied at 0.3% year over year.

Highest Average Credit Card Debt by State

Alaska carried the highest average amount of credit card debt among states at $7,726 in Q1 2019. New Jersey came next, with $6,881, followed by Connecticut at $6,876, District of Columbia at $6,782 and Virginia at $6,773.

Lowest Average Credit Card Debt by State

Iowa had the lowest average amount of credit card debt in Q1 2019 at $4,622, followed by Wisconsin at $4,810, Kentucky at $5,017, South Dakota at $5,023 and Idaho with $5,027.

Average Credit Card Debt by State
State20182019Change
Alabama$5,502$5,5651.1%
Alaska$7,691$7,7260.5%
Arizona$5,797$5,9302.3%
Arkansas$5,215$5,2290.3%
California$5,863$6,0493.2%
Colorado$6,055$6,1671.8%
Connecticut$6,764$6,8761.7%
Delaware$6,055$6,1842.1%
District of Columbia$6,600$6,7822.8%
Florida$6,159$6,3402.9%
Georgia$6,336$6,4591.9%
Hawaii$6,274$6,4863.4%
Idaho$4,992$5,0270.7%
Illinois$5,948$6,0461.6%
Indiana$5,051$5,1011.0%
Iowa$4,592$4,6220.7%
Kansas$5,551$5,5800.5%
Kentucky$4,967$5,0171.0%
Louisiana$5,628$5,6911.1%
Maine$5,184$5,2681.6%
Maryland$6,636$6,7501.7%
Massachusetts$5,867$6,0132.5%
Michigan$5,203$5,2731.3%
Minnesota$5,205$5,2821.5%
Mississippi$4,931$5,0302.0%
Missouri$5,383$5,4441.1%
Montana$5,202$5,2791.5%
Nebraska$5,162$5,2191.1%
Nevada$5,923$6,1043.1%
New Hampshire$5,999$6,0831.4%
New Jersey$6,745$6,8812.0%
New Mexico$5,693$5,7370.8%
New York$6,186$6,3172.1%
North Carolina$5,627$5,6981.3%
North Dakota$4,973$5,0742.0%
Ohio$5,366$5,4130.9%
Oklahoma$5,626$5,6931.2%
Oregon$5,189$5,3132.4%
Pennsylvania$5,623$5,6871.1%
Rhode Island$5,949$6,0301.4%
South Carolina$5,708$5,8212.0%
South Dakota$4,965$5,0231.2%
Tennessee$5,453$5,5331.5%
Texas$6,482$6,6112.0%
Utah$5,331$5,4251.8%
Vermont$5,234$5,2891.1%
Virginia$6,651$6,7731.8%
Washington$5,817$5,9221.8%
West Virginia$5,004$5,0430.8%
Wisconsin$4,798$4,8100.3%
Wyoming$5,579$5,6270.9%

Note: Data is from Q1 of each year
Source: Experian

Credit Card Debt by Metro Area

Looking at the average credit card debt changes this past year by metropolitan statistical area, 279 metro areas saw their average credit card debt increase. Napa, California; Stockton, California; Greenville, North Carolina; Hinesville-Fort Stewart, Georgia; and Logan, Utah, all tied with the largest year-over-year growth, as their average credit card debt increased by 5%.

Among the markets that saw a decrease to their average credit card debt, Chico, California, had the largest decrease at 6%. Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and Wenatchee, Washington, both saw a drop of 3% to their average balances, followed by seven metro areas all tied at 2%: Panama City-Lynn Haven, Florida; Alexandria, Louisiana; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Fairbanks, Alaska; Champaign-Urbana, Illinois; Iowa City, Iowa; and Janesville, Wisconsin.

Highest Average Credit Card Debt by Metro Area

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut, had the highest average amount of credit card debt at $8,358 in Q1 2019. Anchorage, Alaska, had the second-highest average credit card debt at $7,937, followed by Fairbanks, Alaska, at $7,711. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Virginia-North Carolina, had the fourth-highest amount, with $7,444, and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, District of Columbia-Virginia-Maryland-West Virginia, came in fifth with $7,384.

Lowest Average Credit Card Debt by Metro Area

Dubuque, Iowa, had the lowest average amount of credit card debt at $3,887 in the first quarter of 2019. Owensboro, Kentucky, had the second-lowest average credit card debt, with $4,222, followed by Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa, at $4,272. Next was Johnstown, Pennsylvania, at $4,289 and La Crosse, Wisconsin-Minnesota, at $4,297.

Average Credit Card Debt Ranked by Metro Area
Metropolitan Statistical Area20182019Change
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT $8,186$8,3582%
Anchorage, AK $7,879$7,9371%
Fairbanks, AK $7,845$7,711-2%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC$7,350$7,4441%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV$7,235$7,3842%
Austin-Round Rock, TX$7,030$7,1632%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX$6,986$7,1022%
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA$7,059$7,0981%
San Antonio, TX$6,960$7,0932%
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX$6,890$7,0392%
Napa, CA$6,684$7,0215%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA$6,872$7,0112%
Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, TX$6,834$6,9492%
Jacksonville, NC$7,033$6,947-1%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL$6,651$6,9214%
Jacksonville, FL$6,791$6,9192%
Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY $6,824$6,8951%
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA $6,722$6,8722%
Naples-Marco Island, FL $6,563$6,8474%
Baltimore-Towson, MD $6,721$6,8282%
Charleston-North Charleston, SC $6,562$6,8014%
Trenton-Ewing, NJ $6,542$6,7724%
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA $6,473$6,6823%
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA $6,449$6,6553%
Fort Walton Beach-Crestview-Destin, FL $6,641$6,6480%
Ocean City, NJ $6,582$6,6301%
Honolulu, HI $6,410$6,5943%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL$6,429$6,5862%
Fayetteville, NC $6,559$6,5770%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD $6,485$6,5741%
Denver-Aurora, CO $6,371$6,5393%
New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA $6,448$6,5371%
Norwich-New London, CT $6,416$6,5362%
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL $6,388$6,5352%
Midland, TX $6,309$6,5053%
Columbus, GA-AL $6,390$6,5022%
Hinesville-Fort Stewart, GA $6,189$6,4915%
Savannah, GA $6,314$6,4612%
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI $6,358$6,4562%
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA $6,279$6,4413%
Richmond, VA $6,284$6,4322%
Raleigh-Cary, NC $6,336$6,4281%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT $6,323$6,4021%
New Haven-Milford, CT $6,286$6,3711%
Manchester-Nashua, NH $6,247$6,3642%
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA $6,169$6,3643%
Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC $6,258$6,3491%
Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC $6,254$6,3461%
Corpus Christi, TX $6,173$6,3403%
Charlottesville, VA $6,257$6,3301%
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT $8,186$8,3582%

Note: Data is from Q1 of each year
Source: Experian

Late Credit Card Payments by State

Credit card delinquency rates, or late payments over 30 days past due, have risen 28% from Q1 2016 to Q1 2019; in the past year, that rate grew 4%. Late payments 90 days past due or more increased 34% from Q1 2016 to Q1 2019; in the past year, that rate grew by 5%.

Most Viewed Credit Card Types

Looking at visitors to Experian CreditMatch™, credit cards with no annual fee were the most viewed in the first three months of 2019, followed by secured cards and rewards cards.

Most Viewed Credit Card Types
No Annual Fee27.8%
Secured Card27%
Rewards22.1%
Cashback18.7%
Travel1.9%
Airline1.5%
Hotel0.9%

Note: Data is from Q1 2019
Source: Experian CreditMatch™

Most Viewed Credit Cards by FICO® Score*

Each credit card provider has a different set of credit requirements, and depending on your credit score, some cards may or may not be available to you. While most people may be able to get approved for a new credit card, there are many others with lower credit scores or no credit history at all that makes getting approved more challenging. Looking at the most viewed cards by FICO® Score shows the differences in popularity across different FICO® Score tiers.

For those people who don't have a FICO® Score (sometimes referred to as thin-file consumers), secured cards were the most viewed—which makes sense for a group trying to establish credit. For those who do have a FICO® Score, here are the most viewed credit card types:

Most Viewed Credit Cards by FICO® Score Range
Credit ScoreRangeMost Viewed Credit Card
300-579Very PoorSecured Card
580-669FairNo annual fee cards followed by rewards cards
670-739GoodRewards cards followed by no annual fee cards
740-799Very GoodRewards cards followed by no annual fee cards
800-850ExceptionalRewards cards followed by no annual fee cards

Source: Experian CreditMatch™

As FICO® Scores increased, so did the views for cash back cards along with airline and travel credit cards.

Boost Your FICO® Score

To help you improve your credit score, Experian offers Experian Boost. Through this new opt-in platform, previously uncounted payments, such as utility and cell phone bills, are factored into your Experian FICO® Score.

To use Boost, you allow Experian to connect to your bank accounts to identify utility and telecom payment history. After you verify the data and confirm you want it added to your Experian credit file, an updated FICO® Score will be delivered in real time.

Methodology: The analysis results provided are based on an Experian-created statistically relevant aggregate sampling of our consumer credit database that may include use of the FICO® Score 8 version. Different sampling parameters may generate different findings compared with other similar analysis. Analyzed credit data did not contain personal identification information. MSA is the acronym for metropolitan statistical area, which groups counties and cities into specific geographic areas for population censuses and compilations of related statistical data.

FICO® is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the U.S. and other countries.

The data for most viewed credit cards and types is based on Experian CreditMatch™ data from January 1 to March 31, 2019.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.

This article was originally published on November 28, 2018, and has been updated.

*Credit score calculated based on FICO® Score 8 model. Your lender or insurer may use a different FICO® Score than FICO® Score 8, or another type of credit score altogether. Learn more.

†Results may vary. Some may not see improved scores or approval odds. Not all lenders use Experian credit files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost.

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