Research and Statistics

Alaska, New Mexico have heaviest card debt burdens


A combination of economic forces and individual financial discipline gives some places a heavier debt burden than others

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Debt Burden


Alaskans carried the heaviest credit card debt burden in the U.S. in 2016, while North Dakota consumers had the lightest. weighed the debt loads of Americans by comparing average credit card balances in each state to the median earnings. In other words, the debt burden measures not just card balances, but also the money available to pay them off.

States are ranked by how quickly residents can erase the average card balance, using 15 percent of their earnings. On that basis it would take Alaskans 20 months and $992 in interest to wipe out their average card debt of $7,552.

North Dakotans are at the other end of the debt scale. With 15 percent of their earnings, they manage to pay their $4,599 average balance in just 12 months, while racking up $370 in interest. That’s eight months sooner than their neighbors to the far north, and one-third less in interest.

“The variability between the best and the worst state is high” when it comes to handling debt, said John Pelletier, director of the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.

RankStateAverage Credit Card BalanceMedian Earnings15% Monthly EarningsMonths to Pay OffInterest to Pay OffAverage Debt90+ Day Delinquency
2New Mexico$5,615$26,24432820$743$40,08439%

Lowest Debt Burdens

RankStateAverage Credit Card BalanceMedian Earnings15% Monthly EarningsMonths to Pay OffInterest to Pay OffAverage Debt90+ Day Delinquency
50North Dakota$4,599$34,33642912$370$41,07920%


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