Average credit card debt rises to $5,710

Figure carrying red debt sign

Despite the recession -- or maybe because of the recession -- we continue to run up bigger balances on our credit cards.

TransUnion, one of the three big credit reporting agencies, says the average debt -- defined as the total bankcard debt per bankcard borrower -- rose to $5,710 in the third quarter (July through September 2008).

That's up 1.57% from the second quarter of 2008 and 6% from the third quarter of 2007.

The highest average balance was in Alaska at $7,827, followed by Nevada at $6,636 and Tennessee at $6,568.

The lowest average balance was found in Iowa ($4,277), followed by North Dakota ($4,403) and West Virginia ($4,517).

The steepest increases in average bankcard debt over the previous quarter occurred in Wyoming (4.96%), Delaware (4.12%) and Arizona (3.12%).

Maine experienced the largest drop in its average credit card debt (-1.4%), followed by North Dakota (-1.12%) and Alaska (-0.57%).

As you might expect, the percentage of borrowers delinquent on one or more of their bankcards increased to 1.09% in the third quarter of 2008, up from 1.03% in the third quarter of 2007.

Delinquency was highest in Nevada (1.79%), followed closely by Florida (1.45%) and Mississippi (1.45%).

Consumers were least likely to be behind on their credit card payments in North Dakota (0.70%), Vermont (0.70%) and Utah (0.76%).

TransUnion forecasts that the delinquency rate could reach 1.3% or 1.4% by the end of 2009.

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