Where millennials are struggling to pay credit card debt

Paying off a large amount of credit card debt can be challenging. It is especially difficult when you are saddled with high rent costs and bleak employment prospects like some millennials are. How much are these two factors affecting millennials' ability to stay on top of debt? We looked at these and other metrics to find out where millennials are struggling with paying off their credit card debt.

Holding onto a lot of credit card debt? A balance transfer credit card could help you pay it off.

For the purposes of this study, we defined "millennials" as persons aged 20 – 34 in 2015. In order to find the places where millennials are struggling the most to pay off their credit card debt, we compared 202 metro areas. We compared them across metrics like the average credit score for millennials, average credit card debt for millennials, millennial unemployment rate, median gross rent for a one-bedroom apartment and median gross rent for a one-bedroom apartment as a percent of median individual income.

Key Findings

  • Winning in Wisconsin – According to our data, millennials in Wisconsin are the best-positioned to pay off credit card debt. Three of the bottom five places on our list are in Wisconsin. They are Greenbay-Appleton, Wasau-Rhinelander and La Cross-Eau Claire. These metro areas have low unemployment rates and high average credit scores.

  • Peach State struggles – Four of the top 20 places where millennials struggle to pay off their credit card debt are in Georgia. Georgia millennials are facing high unemployment rates and high amounts of average credit card debt.

Data and Methodology

In order to determine where millennials are struggling to pay credit card debt, we looked at data on 202 metro areas. Specifically, we looked at data on the following five factors:

  • Average credit score for millennials. Data comes from Experian's 2016 State of Credit Report.

  • Average credit card debt for millennials. Data comes from Experian's 2016 State of Credit Report.

  • Millennial unemployment rate. This is the unemployment rate for persons aged 20 – 34. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau's 1-Year American Community Survey.

  • Median gross rent for a one-bedroom home. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau's 1-Year American Community Survey.

  • Median gross rent for a one-bedroom home as a percent of median individual income. Data on median rents comes from the U.S. Census Bureau's 1-Year American Community Survey and data on median individual incomes comes from the U.S. Census Bureau's 1-Year American Community Survey.

First we ranked each city across each factor, giving equal weighting to all factors. Then we found the average ranking for each city. We based our final score on each city's average ranking. The city with the highest average ranking received a 100. The city with the lowest average ranking received a 0.

Tip for Paying off Credit Card Debt

If you have a large amount of credit card debt and are struggling to pay it off, you may want to consider using a balance transfer credit card. A balance transfer card allows you to transfer your existing credit card debt to another card. The reason this can be a good idea is that many cards will offer 0% APR over a set period of time, say 15 months. During this time you can work on tackling your credit card debt, without racking up additional interest.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/antonioguillem

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