Maxed-Out Americans: Cities With the Heaviest Credit Card Debt

Whether area economies dip or soar, residents of some U.S. cities don't contain their credit card debt.

Couple with credit card, shopping.Kamil Macniak / Shutterstock.com

U.S. households had more than $1 trillion in outstanding credit card debt as of June, reported MarketWatch. But that debt is not equally distributed.

Through an analysis of Federal Reserve data, LendingTree determined the nation’s most “maxed out” cities with the greatest share of residents carrying heavy credit card debt. They factored in the percentage of residents with at least one maxed-out credit card, the average number of maxed-out cards those consumers held and the average rate of credit utilization (the percentage of credit available to an individual that is being used) to create a “maxed out” score.

Here are the 35 cities that Lending Tree found were suffering under the most credit card stress, ending with the city ranked No. 1 or most maxed-out.

35. Pittsburgh

mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 16 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.35

The steel industry that once defined Pittsburgh has dwindled, but, increasingly, research facilities and a boom in technology manufacturing have kept the Pennsylvania city’s economy humming, reported the Brookings Institution. The city’s residents aren’t in such great financial shape, though, due to high credit card debt. According to Lending Tree’s scoring, the city was the 35th-most maxed out in the country.

34. Cincinnati

Anne Kitzman / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 15.4 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.31

Cincinnati is now the home of Ohio’s largest economy, and the 28th-largest U.S. metropolitan economy, reported Cincinnati.com. Residents of the city are pretty reliant on plastic, however, putting their city at 34th-most maxed out on credit cards.

33. San Francisco

San Francisco crowd.ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 15.8 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.27

The San Francisco economy is red-hot, growing by 5.2 percent last year, reported SF Gate. The city’s economic growth rate was three times the national average, according to the report. High housing costs and rates of inflation weigh down residents as does the high credit card debt reported by Lending Tree.

32. Miami

Kamira / Shutterstock.com

Rates of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 15.7 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.3

The Miami economy recovered from the last recession more quickly than other areas of Florida, but the growth is expected to level off, reported The Miami Herald. Meanwhile the city’s residents are piling on credit card debt, according to Lending Tree’s report.

31. Atlanta

Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 15.5 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.37

The Atlanta economy has recovered from the recession, but the job market has lagged — both in terms of market participation and compensation. Atlantans, meanwhile, are pretty deep in credit card debt: Are they using them to cover gaps in their budgets?

30. Detroit

Downtown Detroit.Atomazul / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 15.1 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.34

It’s no secret that Detroit’s economy is still struggling, despite a slight upturn in certain areas. That hasn’t stopped residents from leaning heavily on their credit cards, according to this data from Lending Tree, which ranks it 30th among cities most burdened by credit-card debt.

29. St. Louis

Semmick Photos / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 16 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.34

Social unrest over police killings has had a negative economic impact on St. Louis, with violent protests closing businesses and an ongoing need for major capital repairs creating an uncertain long-term economic outlook, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis residents are also pretty deep in credit card debt, according to Lending Tree scoring.

28. Orlando, Florida

James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 14.7 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.36

It’s difficult to forecast Orlando’s economic outlook due to many political variables, reported the Orlando Sentinel. New government policies and a reduction in regulations will boost the economy but may also cause negatives including debt and deficit spending. Orlando residents apparently are doing their own version of deficit spending, according to Lending Tree’s ranking.

27. Birmingham, Alabama

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 15.9 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.33

Hurricane Irma gave an economic boost to Birmingham and other parts of Alabama, reported AL.com. The influx of visitors from states like Florida hit by the storm filled hotels and boosted revenues at stores and restaurants. Residents also apparently were doing their part to boost others’ revenues while depleting their own, as Lending Tree’s ranking reveals.

26. Chicago

Mark Baldwin / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 15.3 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.34

Chicago’s economy is vibrant, but the rest of the state is struggling, with new investment largely deterred in large part by onerous business regulations and unfriendly tax policies, reported the Chicago Tribune. In the Windy City, people are ringing up hefty credit card debt, according to Lending Tree.

25. Las Vegas

Business Stock / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 14.7 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.32

Tourism in Las Vegas is one reason for its relatively steady economy. Yet the Las Vegas economy is in need of diversity or it will stall, reported the Las Vegas Sun. The concern over the future economy and a lack of high-paying jobs in the area hasn’t stopped Vegas residents from boosting their consumer credit card debt, Lending Tree’s ranking shows.

24. Phoenix

Anton Foltin / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 15.3 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.35

A growing population and diverse economy have kept the economy booming in Phoenix, reported Arizona Central. And apparently spending on credit by consumers is booming as well, Lending Tree’s ranking shows.

23. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 16 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.34

Grand Rapids had the fastest-growing economy in the U.S. in 2016, as evidenced by growing job opportunities, reported MLive.com. Grand Rapids’ residents apparently are having their own growth spurt with credit.

21-22. Greensboro, North Carolina

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 17.2 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.42

The jobless rate in the Greensboro metropolitan area, like the rest of northwest North Carolina, is at an 11½ year low, reported the Greensboro News & Record. Perhaps it is the robust employment picture that has prompted Greensboro residents to take their credit cards to the limit.

21-22. Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City skylineNatalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 18.5 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.36

Oklahoma has the fifth-worst economy in the United States, reported Fox 25 News. Much of that is due to a downturn in the oil and gas industries that led to massive job losses and bankruptcies. Perhaps that’s why so many Oklahomans are piling up debt on their credit cards.

19-20. Salt Lake City

Joe Guetzloff / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 15.5 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.35

The Salt Lake City economy is booming, as evidenced by the ultra-low unemployment rate, reported Good4Utah. Salt Lake City residents have helped boost the economy — though not their own budgets — with heavy use of credit. More than 1 in 6 has at least one maxed-out credit card, according to the Lending Tree report.

19-20. Memphis, Tennessee

f11 photo / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 16.2 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.32

Memphis is one of the most economically distressed cities in the United States, according to Memphis Business Journal. “Distressed” could be a good word for those residents who get a “maxed out” credit card bill each month.

18. Columbus, Ohio

Christian Hinkle / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 15.4 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.33

The Columbus economy is one of the hottest in Ohio, second only to Cincinnati, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The two cities have the same rate of consumers with maxed-out credit cards (15.4 percent) but Lending Tree analysis ranks Columbus as 18th-most maxed out (compared to Cincinnati’s ranking at 34th) because its residents use more of the credit available to them, and max out more cards on average than folks in Cincinnati, Lending Tree found.

17. Denver

EdgeofReason / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 16.6 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.32

Rebounding oil prices have boosted parts of Colorado’s economy, according to the Denver Post. And even though Denver’s economy is in recovery, wages, an aging population and fewer business expansions have kept it lower than hoped, the Post said. There’s been no lack of expansion in credit card use, from the looks of Lending Tree’s ranking.

16. Dallas

Aneese / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 16.5 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.34

The success of the Dallas economy, which Forbes ranked the top city for jobs this year, hinges on multiple points of strength in aerospace, defense, insurance, financial services, life sciences, data processing and transportation. As employment continues to boom, so does Dallas residents’ credit card debt.

15. Minneapolis

Nick Lundgren / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 15.8 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.3

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area, aka the Twin Cities, is the 14th-best city for business and careers, according to a recent Forbes ranking. The Lending Tree ranking of the city as 15th-most maxed out on credit cards is a more dubious distinction.

14. Austin, Texas

Roschetzky Photography / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 16.3 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.4

Austin’s economy is healthy, and its unemployment rate is low, according to Austin news site MyStatesman. But the tight labor market has kept some employers from filling critical jobs, which can stall wages. Maybe that’s why so many residents are piling up debt on their credit cards.

13. Washington, D.C.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 16.4 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.35

The Washington, D.C., economy is strong, but analysts suggest it is headed for trouble, reported WTOP News. A slowdown in federal government growth has reduced the size of the workforce, the report said. Meanwhile credit card use has been robust, putting the nation’s capital at 13th-most maxed out, according to Lending Tree’s analysis.

12. Portland, Oregon

photomatz / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 17.2 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.31

Portland’s booming economy shows no sign of slowing down, reported OregonLive.com. As the area moves toward full employment, though, predictions expect the growth to slow. Portlanders show no sign of slowing down their credit card spending either.

11. Richmond, Virginia

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

Percent of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 17.4 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.38

Richmond has one of the fastest-growing job markets in the U.S., according to Tribune Media Wire. Richmond residents rely heavily on their plastic, however, putting the city at 11th-most maxed out in the nation, according to Lending Tree.

9-10. New Orleans

f11 photography / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 16.4 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.38

New Orleans has made an incredible economic recovery in the past decade, and many believe it will continue in most sectors, reported the Times-Picayune. Meanwhile, the city’s residents have been ringing up their credit card debt.

9-10. New York City

New York City Times SquareLuciano Mortula – LGM / Shutterstock.com

Percent of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 16.8 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.35

New York City certainly offers no end of things to buy and places to throw down a credit card. Residents’ spending on credit cards puts the city in the nation’s top 10 most maxed out.

8. Seattle

Carter / Shutterstock.com

Percent of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 16.8 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.33

The state of Washington ranked No. 1 in “Best State Economies,” according to WalletHub. The survey also ranked the city second (after Virginia Beach, Virginia) in its list of “Best Big Cities to Live In.” Consumers are definitely splurging as evidenced by their credit card debt.

7. Jacksonville, Florida

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 16.5 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.39

Forbes reports that the economy in Florida is booming and Jacksonville has one of the highest projected growth rates (2.5 percent). That’s great news, but residents there are carrying some of the heaviest credit card debt in the U.S.

6. Sacramento, California

Adonis Villanueva / Shutterstock.com

Percent of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 17.2 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.35

It’s no secret that California has had economic problems in the past year, and the state capital of Sacramento is no exception, reported Fox40. An expected economic downturn could even lead to a recession, the station reported. In more bad news, Sacramento’s credit card debt puts it among the most maxed out in the nation.

4-5. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 17.1 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.27

4-5. Houston

Silvio Ligutti / Shutterstock.com

Percent of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 17.9 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.33

A stalled oil market recovery means weaker-than-expected overall job growth, a smaller labor force and other sluggish growth, according to a report by Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. Meanwhile, many Houston residents are taking on heavy credit card debt.

3. San Antonio

f11 photo / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 17.2 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.41

San Antonio is emerging as the less expensive but still trendy alternative to Austin, reported Dallas News, the online version of the Dallas Morning News. San Antonio’s lower housing and rent costs and high-tech companies’ interest in moving to the area signal an upcoming boom.

2. Los Angeles

Hollywood Boulevard in LA.Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Rate of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 17.5 percent

Average number of maxed out credit cards: 1.33

The number of jobs in Los Angeles has grown and experts expect the trend to continue, adding 133,000 new jobs between 2016 and 2021, reported the Pasadena Star News. But the high cost of housing and inflation have kept residents there in the economic doldrums, as household incomes lag 4.5 percent below 1990, the newspaper said. Meanwhile, according to Lending Tree’s analysis, Angelenos carry the second-heaviest rate credit card debt in the country.

1. San Diego

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Percent of consumers with a maxed-out credit card: 18 percent

Average number of maxed-out credit cards: 1.32

San Diego has had modest job growth in the past year, but there’s nothing modest about its residents’ credit card debt. Lending Tree reports it’s the most maxed-out city in the U.S.

What’s your credit debt look like these days? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page. And if you or someone you know is struggling with credit card debt, our Solutions Center can match you with a reputable expert to help out.

Nancy Dunham
Nancy Dunham @NancyDWrites

Nancy Dunham is a freelance journalist based in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

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