Borrowing

The states where people struggle the most, and least, to pay off credit card debt

The average credit card debt per household during the first quarter of this year was $8,500. In these U.S. states, residents struggle most to pay what they owe.

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Consumer credit card balances declined by $76 billion during the second quarter, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Still, the average credit card debt per household during the first quarter of this year was $8,500, according to WalletHub, and experts expect it to go up.

"Earlier in the pandemic, when most states were in lockdown, people charged less to their credit cards," says WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez. "This was also influenced by the government help that many Americans received. However, as things are slowly opening up, the amounts charged will start to rise again."

WalletHub predicts a net increase of $80 billion at the end of this year. 

Here are the five states with the least sustainable amounts of median debt per person, according to WalletHub, which drew from TransUnion credit data. The rankings are determined by calculating the cost and time required for the average person to pay off the median card balances. 

Alaska

Median credit card debt: $3,897 
Time required to pay it off: 17 months and 28 days

District of Columbia

Median credit card debt: $3,272
Time required to pay it off: 16 months and 16 days

Colorado 

Median credit card debt: $2,968
Time required to pay it off:  14 months and 30 days

Vermont

Median credit card debt: $2,258
Time required to pay it off:  14 months and 18 days

Washington

Median credit card debt: $2,892
Time required to pay it off:  14 months and 15 days

As things are slowly opening up, the amounts charged will start to rise again.
Jill Gonzalez
Analyst at WalletHub

How sustainable the debt is depends on how much the average income is in each state, Gonzalez says. "In Alaska's and D.C.'s case, the median credit card debt per person is very high, which makes it less sustainable. At the opposite end, we have states like Mississippi and Alabama, where incomes are lower, and credit card debt is lower, which is more sustainable."

Here are the five states where residents have the most sustainable credit card debt. 

Pennsylvania

Median credit card debt: $2,335
Time required to pay off: 11 months and 11 days

West Virginia 

Median credit card debt: $2,130
Time required to pay off: 11 months and 6 days

Wyoming

Median credit card debt: $2,536
Time required to pay off: 10 months and 22 days

Alabama

Median credit card debt: $2,430
Time required to pay off: 10 months and 15 days

Mississippi

Median credit card debt: $2,287
Time required to pay off: 10 months and 14 days

If you need to pay off credit card debt but don't know where to start, here are a few simple steps. First, look at how much debt you have and determine the date by which you want to have it all paid off. 

Then choose a plan. One popular debt-payment method is the avalanche method, which calls for paying off your debt with the highest interest first. Another is the snowball method, in which you tackle the smallest sums of debt first.

If you assess your debt, create a payoff plan and stick to it, you have a better chance of paying it off before it becomes unsustainable to you. 

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