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Which U.S. States are Most Responsible with Credit? The Most (and Least) Credit-savvy States in the Nation

Does where you live influence how well you use credit? It may. This map of the United States ranks each state on average credit card debt, average credit score and the number of bankruptcy filings per capita. How credit-savvy is your state?

Are New Yorkers too impatient to manage their money well? Are Californians too laid back to be aggressive investors? Are Las Vegans too blinded by glitz and glamour to avoid financial trouble?

Citizens of all 50 states have unique money styles — things they do well and…not so well. Want to know how your state stacks up?

We ranked the states based on average credit card debt by borrower from The Washington Post, bankruptcy filings by state from The American Bankruptcy Institute and average credit score data by state from CreditKarma to find out where the most financially-responsible people in America live.

Do the results surprise you?

The most financially-responsible states

It looks like there’s something to be said for Midwest values. Four out of the five most responsible states are in America’s Heartland.

North Dakota and South Dakota rank first- and second-most responsible respectively, with both doing particularly well in the credit card debt category (North Dakota has the second-least amount of debt for all the states, coming in just behind Iowa; South Dakota had the third-least).

Vermont also performed well across the board, with especially few bankruptcy filings, and New England is another part of the country known for its “Yankee thrift”.

So, if you want to be fiscally responsible, should you live in the Midwest? It’s probably not that simple, but there probably are fewer things there you’d be tempted to spend your money on (as an Indiana ex-pat I feel justified in saying that, but fellow Midwesterners, feel free to disagree!).

The least financially-responsible states

The three least financially responsible states are Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, in that order, suffering from low credit scores and lots of bankruptcy filings.

At first it’s surprising that all three are the South, but these three states also have some of the highest poverty rates in the country, ranking 37th (Georgia), 40th (Tennessee) and 47th (Alabama) for percentage of the population living in poverty.

Illinois and Maryland tied for fourth-worst. Could it be that Illinois’s notoriously corrupt politicians have made their habits contagious? (Just speculating!)

We can’t know for sure what the lesson is here (Maybe super-hot summers make people spend in a feverish haze during July and August? Or is it that Publix — the best supermarket of all time — is too irresistible?)

How did your state fare? Are their financial habits (good or bad) unique to your part of the coutnry?

Published or updated on April 10, 2014

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About Maria LaMagna

Maria LaMagna is a recent graduate of Northwestern University where she served as editor-in-chief of the university’s award-winning daily newspaper and studied for five months in Argentina. Before joining Money Under 30, Maria worked as a reporter for CNN and the Indianapolis Business Journal. Follow Maria on Twitter @MCLaMagna.


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. Brendan Heussler says:

    What’s the deal with Maryland?

  2. fuelthefire says:

    I could name a few things that affect poverty in the southern states (specifically Alabama), but PC keeps me from stating the obvious.

  3. Speak Your Mind