South Florida

The average Miami-area resident needs almost 2 years to pay off credit card debt

A new study by CreditCards.com found that Miami metro residents carry the second-highest credit-card debt burden in the country.
A new study by CreditCards.com found that Miami metro residents carry the second-highest credit-card debt burden in the country. AP

If you’re going to load up on credit-card debt, it helps to have a high income. If you don’t make so much — Miami and South Florida, we’re talking to you — you end up on lists like this one.

The Miami metro area, which includes Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, carries the second-highest credit-card debt burden in the country, according to a new report. The typical Miami metro resident would need 21 months to pay off current card debt, the analysis by CreditCards.com concluded.

Only San Antonio, Texas, residents are burdened by heavier card debt, the report says. They would need 22 months to bring their credit card balance to zero. Texas, in fact, is home to three of the five cities with the highest credit-card debt burdens, the report found.

The study compared median income to average credit-card debt, using data from credit-reporting agency Experian. High debt burdens occurred where card balances are relatively high, but residents’ incomes rank as average or below that.

At the bottom of the scale of the top 25 U.S. metros, which is where you want to be, is relatively affluent San Francisco. The average resident there can pay off credit card debt in 13 months, the study found. The reason is obvious, CreditCards.com concluded: The typical San Franciscan earns enough to comfortably pay off card debt.

Rounding out the least-burdened cities is Minneapolis, where the report said incomes aren’t sky high but an older population takes on less credit card debt, followed by Boston, Washington, D.C., and Seattle.

In Miami, the issue is not so much that people carry outlandish debt: The metro area had only the 14th-highest average credit-card debt, according to the report. But its median income was second lowest among ranked cities. That suggests South Floridians are taking on more credit card debt than they can comfortably pay off.

CreditCards.com said low debt burden on credit cards is linked to good credit scores and fewer late payments.

It’s not the first study that finds that low incomes in Miami and Florida as a whole burden residents inordinately. Numerous reports say Miamians pay among the highest proportions of their income on rent in the nation and rank the city as among the least affordable.

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