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Austinites charge up hefty portion of their available credit, study shows

Austinites charge up hefty portion of credit card limit, study shows

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Austinites' credit card debt nears experts' recommended limit. Photo via LivingDice.com

Austin's credit card debt is the subject of a new report, and it reveals a sizable burden for local spenders. The study from CompareCards.com finds that the average credit card user in the Capital City has a credit card utilization rate of 29.7 percent and a balance of $5,878, ranking No. 32 out the 50 largest metros in the country.

Credit card utilization rates — a credit card's balance compared to its spending limit — is "the second-most important factor in credit scoring formulas behind your payment history — how often you pay your bills on time — so it’s a big deal," the site notes. Financial experts generally recommend keeping spending to no more than 30 percent of a card's limit. The good news is that Austin is just below this threshold.

For the study, CompareCards.com compared user data from My LendingTree from September 2017 and September 2018. The same site found in November that Austin had the highest increase in credit card debt in the country at 12 percent. With housing costs on the rise across the city and county, Austin appears to be feeling the pinch. We aren't alone, though.

"For many of these cities, it’s all about income," the report says. "With a few exceptions, most of the cities with the highest utilization rates were among those with the lowest household incomes, while higher income cities tended to have lower rates."

Credit card holders in other major Texas cities struggle even more with mounting debt and high utilization rates.

San Antonio has the highest credit card utilization rate of the cities on the list, at 35.1 percent and with the average credit card balance of $5,477. Houston ranks fifth, with 32.7 percent and an average balance of $5,587. Dallas-Fort Worth ranks just behind Austin, at No. 33. In the Big D, credit card holders are using 29.6 percent of their limit and carry a balance of $5,343.

Credit card holders in the Bay Area have the lowest utilization rates in the U.S. San Francisco-Oakland ranks No. 49 at 26 percent, while San Jose ranks No. 50 with 23.8 percent.