One of the keys to financial freedom is to stay out of credit card debt. But a recent report from Experian shows that the average credit card balance for U.S. consumers is $5,315.
People in 35 states fall below that national average, while consumers in 16 states carry an average monthly credit card balance that is higher than that. The state-by-state analysis comes from Experian data taken from the third quarter of 2020, the latest information available.
Report: The Average Credit Card Balance Is $5,315
In this article, I’ll show you the 10 states with the highest average credit card debt and offer tips on what you need to do to get out of debt.
The key is to make sure you pay off your credit card bill every month. If you don’t, you’ll accrue interest charges, and that means you’ll end up paying more for something than it actually cost. And carrying too much credit card debt can adversely affect your credit rating.
Let’s take a look at the states (including Washington, D.C.) with the most credit card debt on average.
10 States With the Highest Average Credit Card Debt
Clark says one mistake many people make is paying only the required minimum on their credit card bills. If you can’t pay off the entire balance each month, you should at least make an effort to pay more than the credit card company requires.
“The key to getting out of debt is: Don’t let the lenders manipulate you,” Clark says. “They always state a minimum monthly payment that stretches out your loan as far as possible and earns them the most interest, costing you the most money.”
Get Out of Debt With These 3 Steps
Here are three steps that should help you make progress toward getting out of debt.
1. Set a Realistic Goal
The first thing you should do is come up with some realistic expectations on how to become debt-free based on your income and lifestyle.
Clark recommends setting a goal somewhere within three years.
“I find when people set a five-year goal they tend to fall off the wagon. If they’ll plan for three years or less and stick to it, they’ve got a decent shot of getting it done.”
2. Reach Out to Your Creditors
If you’re in debt to several companies, it’s a good idea to contact them to see if you can negotiate a lower bill or get other payment concessions.
Some lenders may agree to drop some fees if you convert to autopay, but if you go that route, read these tips first on how to use autopay safely. Other creditors may be willing to let you refinance.
3. Tighten Your Spending
Clark wants you to create a budget so you can get a better handle on your spending.
“I want you to tighten the spending belt,” Clark says, “so you can put more money toward your debt.”
If you know exactly where your money is going each month, it will be much easier to find those extra dollars to make a dent in your credit card balances or other debt.
Ready to begin your journey to becoming debt-free? You don’t have to do it alone! Join thousands of people just like you in our Ditch Your Debt Facebook group. There, you’ll find support, ideas, and, most of all, the encouragement you need to help you achieve your goal of eliminating debt once and for all.