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Monday, March 4, 2024

People in These 10 Cities Were Most Motivated to Pay Off Card Debt in 2023, According to Google

Cities Most Motivated To Pay Off Credit Card Debt
Mike Senecal

Written by: Mike Senecal

Mike Senecal
Mike Senecal

Mike Senecal draws on more than 20 years of editorial experience to update CardRates.com readers on industry trends, business news, and best practices in budgeting and credit use. Mike has worked for decades in academic and trade publishing, including roles as managing editor and technical editor at the University of Florida and as contributor to finance industry publications, including Surety Bond Quarterly and Independent Agent, among others. Mike holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Carolina, and he enjoys bringing his years of academic and industry expertise online to help consumers of diverse financial backgrounds.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro
Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience to the CardRates team. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Florida. Today, Lillian edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Reviewed by: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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Our experts and industry insiders blog the latest news, studies and current events from inside the credit card industry. Our articles follow strict editorial guidelines.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Q3 Household Debt and Credit Report found that Americans collectively hold $1.08 trillion in credit card debt. Yet despite record-breaking card balances, the National Retail Federation (NRF) observed in its 2023 holiday forecast — its annual look at Americans’ year-end spending habits — that spending isn’t slowing down.

NRF projects that retail spending (excluding autos, gas, and restaurants) in November and December 2023 will amount to about $960 billion, up 3-4% from 2022. Online and other non-store sales should increase 7-9% to about $275 billion. The NRF claims brick-and-mortar retailers will need to hire between 345,000 and 450,000 seasonal workers to keep up with in-store demand.

Given this alarming movement, no doubt influenced by the holiday shopping season, CardRates staff put together a list of cities that are bucking the trend. We used Google Trends data to evaluate a month-by-month look at search volume around paying off credit card debt and averaged the results.

The 10 cities most motivated to pay off their credit card balances in 2023, according to Google data, are:

1. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photo by: Sean Pavone

Google Trends score: 57.5
Average credit card debt: $5,371
Median income: $58,335

2. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma
Photo by: rawf8

Google Trends score: 57.2
Average credit card debt: $5,134
Median income: $60,866

3. Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri
Photo by: Rachael Martin

Google Trends score: 55.7
Average credit card debt: $4,437
Median income: $73,299

4. Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama
Photo by: Ritu Manoj Jethani

Google Trends score: 55.1
Average credit card debt: $5,304
Median income: $62,873

5. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana
Photo by: f11photo

Google Trends score: 54.0
Average credit card debt: $5,369
Median income: $57,656

6. Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio
Photo by: Ali Chehade

Google Trends score: 52.3
Average credit card debt: $4,614
Median income: $71,020

7. Greenville, South Carolina

Greenville, South Carolina
Photo by: Sean Pavone

Google Trends score: 51.5
Average credit card debt: $5,938
Median income: $60,544

8. Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida
Photo by: Sean Pavone

Google Trends score: 51.2
Average credit card debt: $5,536
Median income: $66,664

9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Photo by: Kristopher Kettner

Google Trends score: 47.4
Average credit card debt: $4,638
Median income: $63,351

10. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada
Photo by: Diego Grandi

Google Trends score: 47.0
Average credit card debt: $4,974
Median income: $64,210

Strategies for Paying Down Card Debt

Ashley Fricker, Senior Editor for CardRates, says it’s important not to feel overwhelmed by your debts and to stay the course.

“Don’t let the figure on your statement get the best of you. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and that you may never get ahead of your debts. Employing a strategy to pay down your credit card debt is the first step. Sticking to the plan takes a lot of committment, but it’s worth it in the end, and you’ll be unlikely to rack up high balances again after you go through the hard work of paying them off.”

Here are a few ways to pay down credit card balances:

  1. Take advantage of 0% balance transfers: These are credit cards that give 0% interest rates to new customers. They require good credit for approval, which is generally a credit score of 670 or above. These cards provide relief from expensive interest fees for up to 18 months, sometimes even longer. This allows your full payment to apply toward your balance rather than compounding interest fees. This option is best for people with good credit and balances of $10,000 or less.
  2. Consider a debt consolidation loan: You may be able to get a personal loan to pay off your credit card debts. This helps make your debt more manageable by reducing the number of payments each month. The loan should have an interest rate that is lower than that of your credit cards to help mitigate interest fees. The loan will also have an end date, which will give you a clear picture of when your debts will be fully repaid. But be sure not to rack up balances on your cards again after you pay them off. This option is best for people who have fair or better credit (600+) and multiple credit cards with balances.
  3. Choose between the snowball or debt avalanche methods: These are two popular debt payoff strategies that many people use to help them conquer expensive card debt. The snowball method prioritizes the smallest card balance. Once that debt is paid, you can roll that payment into the next card, and so on. Your payments effectively get larger with each debt that’s paid. The avalanche method prioritizes cards with the highest APRs. These cards charge the most interest, so this strategy will save you the most in the long run.
  4. Evaluate your income: It may be that the reason you’re unable to get ahead of your debt is because your income is too low and you rely on your card too often to make up the difference. Consider switching jobs or taking on side gigs to help boost your income for the purposes of paying down your debt and discontinuing the overreliance on your credit cards.
  5. Accept that bankruptcy may be your best option: Sometimes repaying the debt is beyond your means, and the best way to relieve the burden and protect your mental well-being is to consider bankruptcy. Unsecured credit card debt is dischargeable in court, but it’s a long road to recovery. Remember, bankruptcy isn’t a failure — it’s a fresh start.

Methodology

We obtained monthly Google Trends data by polling the “pay off credit card debt” search term monthly from January through November 2023 and ranking US metro areas by average score. The tool calculates values on a scale from 0 to 100, where 100 is the location with the most popularity as a fraction of total searches in that location. We included average credit card debt statistics by metro area from LendEDU.com‘s ranking of US cities, Experian‘s Q2 2023 Consumer Credit Review, and 2021 median income data from DataUSA.