Residents of Houston are nursing New Year's hangovers of another kind — credit card debt.
According to a LendingTree study of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas, Houston consumers rank fourth for the highest median amount of credit card debt to ring in the new year: $3,720. In second place is Austin ($3,911), with Dallas at No. 7 ($3,560). San Antonio holds down the No. 14 spot ($3,414).
Hartford, Connecticut, claims the dubious distinction of ranking first in this category, with median credit card debt of $3,994.
Matt Schulz, LendingTree's chief credit analyst, says people with good credit and high income typically are more inclined to carry bigger credit card balances, since they usually have access to higher credit limits. But he notes that a significant number of younger consumers carry a high amount of credit card debt.
"When you're young and don't have a lot of financial experience, that scary combination can lead to more debt, especially for those living in big, expensive cities," according to LendingTree.
By another yardstick, Texas' four major metros fare much better in the LendingTree study.
Houston ranks 38th for the share of credit card users with debt (81.1 percent). Austin ranks No. 21 (84.7 percent), followed by Dallas at No. 37 (81.2 percent), and San Antonio at No. 48 (75.7 percent).
LendingTree researchers used an anonymized sample of more than 40,000 My LendingTree users from the first 15 days of December 2020 to estimate the percentage of credit card users carrying debt into 2021. They also relied on that data to compile median credit card debts.
This article originally ran on CultureMap.