A strong holiday shopping season appears to have led some Americans to delay extra debt payments in December, but despite an end-of-year slowdown all 50 states ended the year with less credit card debt than when the year began, according to a recent report issued by CreditKarma.com.
Credit scores, however, also declined in 2011. Last year, the national average fell eight points to 660. California, Massachusetts and New Jersey were all tied as the states with the best consumer credit scores with an average of 679. The state with the lowest average score was West Virginia at 637.
According to the report, debt in four out of five categories remained steady or declined:
• Credit card debt declined 11% to an average of $6,576
• Student loan debt declined 9% to an average of $26,272
• Home equity debt declined 4% to an average of $47,905
• Home mortgage debt held steady at $173,876
• Auto loan debt increased 2% to $15,504
According to December data, only nine states saw their consumer debt reduced from the previous month. In addition, the decline was less than 1% in six of those nine states.
Of the states that saw an increase in credit card debt from November to December 2011, the jump was greatest in Delaware and Rhode Island. Those states saw a 5% increase in credit card debt bringing their averages to $7,423 and $6,388, respectively.