During the holidays, most households incur added expenses outside of the norm. Between gifts, travel expenses to visit friends and family, holiday dinners, and time off of work, the holidays are an expensive time. And while some households save up money throughout the year to prepare for the holidays, others use credit cards and take on debt to pay for these extra expenses.
Bankrate recently analyzed household debt trends, and how they change over the holidays. The financial site found that over last year’s holiday season — the two-month period between November 2013 and January 2014 — the U.S. average credit card debt increased by 3.5%, which is a more substantial increase than we usually see over the course of an entire calendar year. It also found that in February, consumers begin paying this debt back down, as the holiday season ends, tax returns come in, and people resume their normal lives.
Consumer credit card usage habits, of course, vary by state. Surprisingly, in two states — Alaska and Washington D.C. — the average credit card debt actually declined over the holidays. In some states, however, Bankrate found holiday debt to be particularly high. Do you live in a state with high holiday credit card bills? Read on to see the states that had the largest increases in credit card debts during the holidays last year.
10 states with the highest holiday debt
10. Tennessee — 4.11% increase
Over last year’s holiday season, average credit card debts in Tennessee saw a 4.11% increase, rising from $5,623 in November 2013 to $5,856 in January 2014.
9. Kansas – 4.14% increase
Kansas consumers increased their average credit card debt by 4.14% during the holidays last year — from $5,623 before the holidays to $5,856 afterwards.
8. Pennsylvania – 4.16% increase
Credit card debts averaged $5,398 pre-holidays and then increased to $5,622 in January 2014. This represents an increase of 4.16%.
7. Louisiana – 4.21% increase
Average credit card debts increased 4.21% over the holidays last year in Louisiana — from $5,200 to $5,418.
6. Wyoming – 4.34% increase
In Wyoming, average credit card debts went from $5,686 in November to $5,933 in January — a 4.34% increase.
5. Arizona – 4.37% increase
Average credit card debts in Arizona rose from $5,593 before the holiday season to $5,838 after the holiday season. This represents an increase of 4.37%.
4. Utah – 4.67% increase
Utah consumers increased their average credit card debt by 4.67% during the holidays last year — from $4,838 in November to $5,064 in January.
3. Connecticut – 5.01% increase
In November of 2013, average credit card debts were $6,439. But, after the holidays, they rose to $6,671 — a 5.01% increase.
2. Hawaii — 5.1% increase
Before the holidays, Hawaiians had average credit card debts of $5,896. After the holidays, this debt jumped 5.1% to $6,196.
1. West Virginia — 5.57% increase
Credit card debts averaged $4,285 in November 2013 and then increased to $4,524 in January 2014. This represents an increase of 5.57%, which is more than 2% higher than the national average increase.
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