Residents of Dallas are nursing New Year’s hangovers of another kind — credit card debt.
According to a LendingTree study of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas, Dallas consumers rank seventh for the highest median amount of credit card debt to ring in the new year: $3,560.
To put that into context, Hartford, Connecticut, claims the dubious distinction of ranking first, with median credit card debt of $3,994.
But other major Texas cities occupy other places near the top. In second place is Austin ($3,911), with Houston at No. 4 ($3,720), and San Antonio holds down the No. 14 spot ($3,414).
Basically, a lot of Texans are carrying more than $3,000 in credit card debt.
Matt Schulz, LendingTree’s chief credit analyst, says people with good credit and high income typically are more inclined to carry bigger credit card balances, since they usually have access to higher credit limits. But he notes that a significant number of younger consumers carry a high amount of credit card debt.
“When you’re young and don’t have a lot of financial experience, that scary combination can lead to more debt, especially for those living in big, expensive cities,” according to LendingTree.
By another yardstick, Texas’ four major metros fare much better in the LendingTree study.
Austin ranks 21st for the share of credit card users with debt (84.7 percent), followed by Dallas at No. 37 (81.2 percent), Houston at No. 38 (81.1 percent), and San Antonio at No. 48 (75.7 percent).
LendingTree researchers used an anonymized sample of more than 40,000 My LendingTree users from the first 15 days of December 2020 to estimate the percentage of credit card users carrying debt into 2021. They also relied on that data to compile median credit card debts.
They offer tips for paying down debt here, taking into consideration how much the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people's financial lives. One tip that no one would have imagined a year ago: earmark stimulus money to pay down debt, if possible.
“The pandemic has changed so much about our lives, including our money, so what was true about your finances a year ago may no longer be,” Schulz says.