U.S. Tops Global Credit Card Debt List
By: Brian O'Connell

The U.S. is a world leader in a lot of areas — areas as diverse as military affairs and charitable giving. But one crown Uncle Sam may not want to wear is for the most credit card debt in the world. Here’s how we stack up with the rest of the world, along with some other fresh signs that U.S. consumers are a long way away from cleaning up their plastic problems.

The story can be found in a graphic from PersonalLoans.org. The Web site sources its research from the U.S. Census, Nilson Review and Credit.com.

According to the chart, the current global credit card debt rankings look like this;

Country           Card Debt

  • U.S.              $1.693 billion (40% of world volume)
  • U.K.              $388 million
  • France          $347 million
  • Canada        $187 million
  • Japan           $151 million
  • Mexico          $152 million
  • Russia          $40 million
  • China            $12 million

U.S. Average Annual Card Balance = $10,385

% of American Adults With a Credit Card = 80%

There’s no statistical evidence to support the fact that a handful of Beverly Hills housewives have more debt on their Visa (Stock Quote: V) cards than the entire population of China — which currently stands at about 1.3 billion. But who would be surprised if that were the case?

Inside the U.S., some states are worse than others when it comes to accruing massive credit card debt. According to a separate study by credit scoring giant Experian (Stock Quote: EXPN), New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island lead the nation in credit card debt. In fact, New Hampshire-ites, long reputed as flinty and practical, owe twice as much in credit card debt as do residents of Oklahoma, the state at the bottom of the U.S. credit card debt list.

Massachusetts, Maine and Delaware fall in line near the top of the list, leading to an obvious question: what is it about the U.S. Northeast, particularly New England, that causes its residents to slap their plastic down like a drunken sailor? One reason why is that incomes are, on average, higher in Massachusetts and Connecticut than they are in low-debt states like Oklahoma or Mississippi.

But whatever the reason, by and large, southern states look a lot like China when it comes to accumulating credit card debt. And it’s New Englanders who pile up credit card debt like a Hollywood diva on a Rodeo Drive shopping spree.

Go figure.

—For more ways to save, spend, invest and borrow, visit MainStreet.com.

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