Although down on a year-to-year basis, consumer credit
card debt continued to climb last month, according to data released Wednesday by CreditKarma.com. From January to February, average credit card balances increased slightly to $6,105. That figure is down 15 percent from a year ago.
Meanwhile, the average credit score fell by two points to reach 659 nationally. New Jersey, Massachusetts and California posted the highest credit scores for the month, with averages of 681, 679 and 677, respectively. The states with the lowest scores - Mississippi (624), Arkansas (634) and Louisiana (635) - seemed to be clustered in the south. CreditKarma CEO Ken Lin explains: "You have to use credit to improve your credit score," Lin said in a statement. "That is why states with higher credit scores tend to have a higher cost of living. Consumers in those states need credit for things like mortgages and other living expenses. In the states like Mississippi with a low median mortgage value, credit becomes less important." Consumers do not need as much money to finance a new home, so credit and debt utilization tend to be lower. This is important for debt collection
agencies perusing the most active markets for service demands.