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The States With the Least Credit Card Debt

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Midwestern states have some of the lowest costs of living in the U.S., so it makes sense that most of the states with the least credit card debt are in that region. At the same time, consumers who live in states with low costs of living tend to have lower credit limits — when it comes to credit card debt, the debt-to-limit proportion is much more telling than the sheer value of credit card balances.

North Dakotans lead the country on both accounts. The state has the lowest average credit card balance and lowest average credit utilization, according to second quarter data from the Experian-Olivery Wyman Market Intelligence Reports. Using Experian’s IntelliView tool, we sorted average credit card balances and credit limits of the 50 states plus D.C., and North Dakota came out on top. It’s the only state with an average credit utilization lower than 18%.

North Dakota isn’t the least expensive state in the country, but it’s about average — the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center’s second-quarter cost of living index lists Mississippi as the cheapest. The thriving economy certainly helps debt levels in the state, as it has throughout the oil boom of the last few years. Here’s how other low-debt states compared to North Dakota’s impressive stats, ranked by average credit card balance.

10. Wisconsin
Average credit card balance: $1,473
Average credit limit: $8,129 (18.11% utilization)
Cost of living index (100 points is the national average): 97.5

9. Indiana
Average credit card balance: $1,471
Average credit limit: $7,252 (20.29%)
Cost of living index: 90.9

8. Pennsylvania
Average credit card balance: $1,469
Average credit limit: $7,724 (19.01%)
Cost of living index: 101.9

7. Kentucky
Average credit card balance: $1,454
Average credit limit: $7,072 (20.55%)
Cost of living index: 92

6. Florida
Average credit card balance: $1,447
Average credit limit: $7,142 (20.26%)
Cost of living index: 99.8

5. Ohio
Average credit card balance: $1,445
Average credit limit: $7,430 (19.45%)
Cost of living index: 94.3

4. Michigan
Average credit card balance: $1,438
Average credit limit: $7,400 (19.44%)
Cost of living index: 92.1

3. Iowa
Average credit card balance:$1,411
Average credit limit: $7,804 (18.08%)
Cost of living index: 92.8

2. New York
Average credit card balance: $1,398
Average credit limit: $7,354 (19.01%)
Cost of living index: 131.8

1. North Dakota
Average credit card balance: $1,366
Average credit limit: $7,725 (17.68%)
Cost of living index: 101.4

The standout on this list is New York, because it’s generally not a cheap place to live. Just the more expensive parts of the state skew the cost of living index higher, it would make sense for the credit card spending of consumers living in those pricey areas to skew debt levels higher, but that’s not the case. This data actually makes New Yorkers look exceptionally responsible with money.

Regardless of where you live, credit card debt can be one of the most difficult things to tackle when trying to repair your credit: Having a high balance on your cards will hurt your credit score, and it can be extremely challenging to break the spending habits that got you into debt in the first place. Having a poor credit score won’t make you a credit exile — for instance, there are some credit cards for people with bad credit — but it can make your finances more challenging. One of the best ways to improve your credit while tackling debt is to prioritize making payments on time and reducing spending, so you can chip away at your credit card debt rather than add to it. To see how your credit card spending affects your credit score and how you can improve it, you can check two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

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