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The Most ‘Responsible’ Red vs. Blue States for Credit Card Debt

In light of the upcoming presidential elections, the Credit Sesame team wanted to see how political affiliation shapes spending and debt habits for the Average Joe. Specifically, we were interested in whether “red” or “blue” states are the most “responsible,” or keep their credit card debts low, when it comes to spending.

Drawing from our internal data, we took a look at the following to determine who is more responsible:

– How much credit card debt residents are carrying in red vs. blue states

– How much of their available credit they’re using

– How many of them are over their credit limits

Key findings

redvbluestates

 

On average, Democratic states have more credit cards and higher credit limits than their Republican counterparts. Blue state residents are carrying more debt but based on the percentage of people who are over their credit limit, they’re using their cards more responsibly. Overall, Republican states have 34% more individuals who are over their credit limit.

When you consider that Democratic lawmakers take a more liberal approach to spending, the blue state numbers start to make sense. The fact that red state residents are more prone to overextending themselves with credit, on the other hand, could be chalked up to bad budgeting. Considering that many Republican governors are facing big budget deficits going into 2016, you could conclude that being financially conservative doesn’t always translate to smarter spending.

Red States

redstates

 

Average number of credit cards: 4.21

Average credit card debt: $4,463

Average credit card limit: $15,991

Average % utilization: 56.1% 

Number of people over their limit: 3617

Average % of people over their limit: 13.3%

5. Georgia

Average number of credit cards: 4.3

Average credit card debt: $4,370

Average credit card limit: $15,692

Average % utilization: 60.3%

Average % of people over their limit: 14.9%

Georgia residents have the least credit card debt of all 10 states in our rankings, as well as the lowest average credit limit. On the flip side, the Peach State rates the worst in terms of credit utilization and the percentage of people who are over their limit on one or more cards.

 4. Pennsylvania

Average number of credit cards: 4.6

Average credit card debt: $4,614

Average credit card limit: $17,284 

Average % utilization: 55.5%

Average % of people over their limit: 13.5%

Pennsylvanians are carrying around $250 more in credit card debt than Georgia residents but that’s balanced out by a higher overall credit limit. In terms of credit utilization and the percentage of people over their limit, Pennsylvania takes second place in both categories.

 3. Texas

Average number of credit cards: 4.6

Average credit card debt: $4,739

Average credit card limit: $18,012

Average % utilization: 54.7%

Average % of people over their limit: 12.1%

The Lone Star State has given us our last two Republican presidents and it ranks seventh overall among the red and blue states we’ve included in our study. The average utilization drops slightly to 54.7% but it’s still one of the highest rates on our list.

2. Florida

Average number of credit cards: 4.7

Average credit card debt: $4,850

Average credit card limit: $18,085 

Average % utilization: 54.5% 

Average % of people over their limit: 12.1%

 Florida is fairly even with Texas in most respects and people here are stuck with a healthy balance on their credit cards. It ties with both California and Maryland for the average number of cards.

1. New York

 Average number of credit cards: 5.2

Average credit card debt: $5,251

Average credit card limit: $22,921

Average % utilization: 49.9%

Average % of people over their limit: 9.9%

New York rose to the top of the rankings for red states, with residents boasting $5,251 in credit card debt on average. That, paired with average number of credit cards residents have, pushes it to the number three spot on the list overall. 

Blue States

bluestates

 

Average number of credit cards: 4.5

Average credit card debt: $5,080

Average credit card limit: $20,008

Average % utilization: 52.9%

Number of people of their limit: 2697

Average % of people over their limit: 11.7%

5. California

Average number of credit cards: 4.7

Average credit card debt: $5,040 

Average credit card limit: $22,574

Average % utilization: 48.7%

Average % of people over their limit: 10.4%

Living in California is more expensive than other states and residents have the credit card debt to prove it. The percentage of people over their credit limit is lower compared to most of the red states we’ve included but the actual number of people who are overextended is highest, at 18,259.

4. Massachusetts

Average number of credit cards: 5

Average credit card debt: $5,127 

Average credit card limit: $22,967 

Average % utilization: 50%

Average % of people over their limit: 10.8%

Massachusetts residents have the second highest average credit card limit of all ten states in our rankings and the fifth highest average debt. On average, people here are using exactly half of their available credit at any given time.

3. Illinois

Average number of credit cards: 4.9

Average credit card debt: $5,128

Average credit card limit: $21,666

Average % utilization: 52.7%

Average % of people over their limit: 11.6%

Illinois beat out Massachusetts in the rankings by just a buck, with $5,128 in average credit card debt. The average credit line is slightly lower compared to the rest of the states in the top five, which may be what’s pushing the average utilization ratio up.

 2. Maryland 

Average number of credit cards: 4.7

Average credit card debt: $5,319

Average credit card limit: $21,379

Average % utilization: 52.8%

Average % of people over their limit: 11.8%

Maryland ranks second among both the blue states and all ten states in general. Residents have over $5,300 in credit card debt on average and the least number of people who are over their credit limit.

1. New Jersey

Average number of credit cards: 5.5

Average credit card debt: $5,767

Average credit card limit: $25,293

Average % utilization: 48.2%

Average % of people over their limit: 10.1%

Even though its governor is Republican, New Jersey is still considered a blue state based on how the Electoral College has voted historically. Out of all ten states, New Jersey has the highest average credit card debt and the highest average number of credit cards. As evidence of how fiscally responsible blue staters are, it also has the lowest average credit utilization on our list.

Methodology

StateAvg. # of Credit CardsAvg. Credit Card DebtAvg. Credit Card LimitAvg. % Utilization # of People Over Limit% Over Limit
New Jersey5.5$5,767$25,29348.24,07610.1
Maryland4.7$5,319$21,37952.83,24111.8
New York5.2$5,251$22,92149.99,0279.9
Illinois4.9$5,128$21,66652.76,12611.6
Massachusetts5$5,127$22,967503,37510.8
California4.7$5,040$22,57448.718,25910.4
Florida4.7$4,850$18,08554.513,12312.1
Texas4.6$4,739$18,01254.714,81112.1
Pennsylvania4.6$4,614$17,28455.57,97413.5
Georgia4.3$4,370$15,69260.37,98314.9

We relied on our Credit Sesame internal data to get all of the information used for our study. Specifically, we used our user data to calculate the following for all 50 states as well as the four territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands:

  • Average number of credit cards
  • Average credit card debt
  • Average credit card limit
  • Average utilization ratio
  • Number of people over their credit limit
  • Average percentage of people over their credit limit

We then determined the average overall total for Red and Blue states and compared the results. We selected the five states in each category with the highest number of Credit Sesame users for inclusion in our final rankings. Each state was ranked from lowest to highest.

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