Last week, we talked about individual credit reports. We told you that Equifax is one of the three major credit reporting companies when it comes to individual credit scores. But Equifax does not only provide credit reports about individual consumers. This week, the company released a report about the nation's credit card debt as a whole.
According to Equifax, 54 million households together have more than $800 billion in credit card debt. Of course, some people carry more debt than others, but the average American carries a credit card balance of more than $4,000. And in some cities, residents have even higher average debt. Four cities in Florida rank among the 25 cities whose residents carry the highest credit card balances in the country.
Miami, Tallahassee and Orlando are all in the top 25, but only Jacksonville broke into the top 5. With an average credit card balance of $5,155, residents of Jacksonville carry the second highest levels of credit card debt of all United States cities. In fact, the average there is nearly 23 percent higher than the national average.
While credit card debt levels haven't reached the astronomical levels we saw in October 2008, the high credit card balances are still cause for concern. Average Americans carry credit card debt levels equal to 17 percent of their income. That number does not account for mortgages or other loans, so the true debt level of many households is significantly higher.
Unfortunately, many of these individuals are not able to keep up with the minimum payments on those debts. When credit card debt leads to serious financial stress, individuals often turn to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for help. Thankfully, bankruptcy is often able to provide people with the debt relief they need.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "5 U.S. Cities With The Most Credit Card Debt," Rachel Brown, 18 April 2011