According to data collected by credit reporting company Experian, San Antonio tops the list of cities with the highest average credit card debt. Data from December 2010 was analyzed and the average national credit card debt was $4,200. San Antonio’s average was 20.9 percent higher than the national average at $5,177. What is even more worrisome is that while the national average has decreased by 8 percent since 2007, the average balance in this Texas city has remained steady.
When I saw this figure, my immediate thought was that perhaps the unemployment rate is higher in San Antonio and some residents are looking to their credit cards to make ends meet. However, this is not the case. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate in the San Antonio/New Braunfels metro area was 7.3 percent in December 2010, significantly lower than the 9.4 percent national unemployment rate reported that month.
San Antonio may top the list but the number two city, Jacksonville, Fla., isn’t doing much better. Residents in the Florida city had an average of $5,115 in credit card debt in December 2010. This is 19.4 percent above the national average.
The following cities, including credit card debt averages, round out the top 10: Atlanta ($4,960); Honolulu, Hawaii ($4,939); Dallas, Texas ($4,936); Norfolk, Va. ($4,925); Seattle, Wash. ($4,877); Austin, Texas ($4,791); Richmond, Va. ($4,771); and San Diego, Calif. ($4,673).
While these numbers may be surprising, it is important to note that these are just average figures. Thousands of San Antonio residents may carry no credit card balances while others may carry a six-figure credit card balance. I’m curious to see what happens to these figures as the economy continues to improve. Will consumers charge more on credit cards because they feel secure in their jobs or will newly employed Americans start paying off their credit cards bringing the average balance down?