NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Consumers whacked down credit card debt by 11% last year, and average debt loads dropped in every state. The average credit card balance for 2011 was $6,576, down from $7,404 the previous year, according to a report from credit tracking and financial education website CreditKarma.com, based on data from more than 300,000 of its users.
Check out how much credit card debt consumers in your state have – and how much debt they’ve tacked on since last year. The decline came as weak consumer confidence kept spending in check, and banks continued to tighten their lending and slash credit limits for many existing customers, said Ken Lin, CEO of Credit Karma. Credit card debt had eased in 2010 as well, slipping 7% during the year. The positive trend may not last for long, however. As the economy continues to slowly improve , Lin said debt is likely to grow with it, in spite of the fact that banks remain tight on credit requirements. “I believe we are just about at the bottom of the debt trend,” said Lin.
Credit card debt by state: Consumers in Wisconsin had the lowest average credit card debt last year: $5,062. Mississippi and Alabama were close behind and also posted the biggest declines, with residents reducing their balances by 23% and 16%, respectively. The state that racked up the most credit card debt was Alaska, where consumers had an average debt load of $7,937. Alaska was followed by New Hampshire and Connecticut.
Other debt: Consumers weren’t as successful at paying off other kinds of debt last year. Mortgage debt remained steady at a national average of $173,876, though levels varied greatly among states. Californians had the most mortgage debt: an average of $313,749 per person. West Virginia residents had the lowest level: $104,279. Mortgage debt rose the most in South Dakota, jumping about 12%, and dropped the most in Nevada, by 6%. Auto loan debt was the only kind of debt to actually increase — rising 2% to an average of $15,504. It rose the most in Alabama — by a whopping 30% — to an average of $20,996.
When all of the different kinds of debts were added up, the average consumer held a total debt load of $210,236 at the end of 2011, down only about 1% from 2010.