Personal Finance

10 States Where Credit Card Debt Is Becoming More Manageable

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on

Credit cards can be useful, especially if you use them responsibly to gain points, airline miles and other perks.

That said, it is easy to let your credit card debt get out of control and end up in serious trouble. For the second quarter of 2021, Experian says that the average card balance was $5,525 nationally, which is actually down from three years ago from when it stood at $6,505.

Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset ranked the states where debt is becoming more manageable for consumers. For details on how we found and analyzed our data, read the data and methodology section at the end.

1. Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island
Sean Pavone /

Rhode Island leads this study in credit card debt reduction over both three years and one year, going down 11.88% and 8.81% respectively. That said, it’s still in the middle of the pack in terms of the average debt, placing 26th at $5,324.

2. Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Rudy Balasko /

The average credit card debt in Wisconsin is just $4,587, the lowest in the nation. That represents 7.15% of median income, the ninth-lowest percentage observed in this study. Debt went down 6.55% over the past three years, placing the state at 24th out of 51 for this metric.

3. Indiana

Carmel, Indiana
Golden Ratio Photos /

Indiana has the fourth-lowest average debt in the nation, just $4,796. That’s an 8.06% drop from the average of $5,216 in 2020, the fourth-biggest one-year difference observed in this study. The three-year change is a 7.31% drop, ranking 22nd.

4. Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio
Pedro Gutierrez /

Ohio saw average credit card debt go down 9.57% from 2018 to 2021, the seventh-biggest three-year drop recorded in this study. The average Q2 2021 debt is $5,494. That’s 8.47% of the median income, ranking Ohio 30th in that metric.

5. Michigan

Detroit Michigan
Linda Parton /

Michigan has the seventh-lowest Q2 2021 median debt, sitting at $4,850. That is an 8.66% decrease over three years and a 6.98% decrease over one year, ranking 15th and 19th respectively.

6. New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sean Pavone /

New Mexico ranks 34th for average Q2 2021 credit card debt ($5,203). It has the fourth-biggest three-year change with a 10.35% decline from 2018. And also the second-biggest one-year change, going down 8.75% from 2020.

7. New Hampshire

Manchester, New Hampshire
Sean Pavone /

The median Q2 2021 credit card debt in New Hampshire is $5,496, ranking 31st overall for this metric. That said, it makes up 7.05% of the median income in the state, placing the Granite State sixth-lowest in that metric. This is also a drop of 9.82% from 2018, ranking fifth.

8. Maryland

Townson Maryland
Jon Bilous /

Maryland actually ranks near the bottom of this study for credit card debt in Q2 of 2021, finishing 46th at $6,164. That debt, however, makes up only 7.11% of median income, the seventh-lowest in the study. Maryland finishes 13th for both metrics measuring change, with debt going down 8.96% over three years and 7.09% over one year.

9. Delaware

mandritoiu /

Delaware saw average credit card debt go from $6,176 in 2018 to $5,581 in Q2 of 2021, the sixth-largest drop (9.64%) in this study. The 2021 debt average makes up 7.95% of median income in the state, placing 19th-lowest.

10. Kentucky

Louisville Kentucky
Sean Pavone /

Kentucky’s average Q2 2021 credit card debt is $4,772, the third-lowest in the nation. That is a 7.47% drop from 2020, which is the seventh-biggest one-year drop observed in this study. The figure makes up 9.13% of the median income in Kentucky, ranking 36th.

Data and Methodology

Man analyzing data on a laptop
fizkes /

To find the states where credit card debt is becoming more manageable, we compared all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., across the following metrics:

  • Average credit card debt 2021. Data is for the second quarter of 2021 and comes from Experian.
  • 2021 average credit card debt as a percentage of median income. Debt figure comes from Experian and income figure comes from the 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Three-year change in average credit card debt. Data comes from Experian and is for 2018 and 2021.
  • One-year change in average credit card debt. Data comes from Experian and is for 2020 and 2021.

First, we ranked each state in each metric. We then found every state’s average ranking, weighting every metric equally. We ranked the states according to this average ranking, giving an index score of 100 to the top state and an index score of 0 to the bottom state.

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