New Hampshire Credit Card Debt
It's no secret that credit card debt - along with bankruptcies and foreclosures - is at one of its highest levels ever and most Americans have been affected by the recession in one way or another. As of July 2008, credit card debt in the United States was about $960 billion, and the average American carries a balance on their cards of around $9,000. The New England states have some of the highest amounts of credit card debt in the country, particularly New Hampshire, which ranks 2nd highest (after Alaska) out of the 50 states when it comes to the total amount of consumer debt.
Why is Credit Card Debt so High in New Hampshire?
There are several reasons why New Hampshire is so high on this list - the state has a higher cost of living, lower mortgage rates which tend to have the effect of home buyers borrowing more than they can really afford to, and more availability of relatively easy credit. Consumers in New Hampshire and the other Northeastern states tend to have more cards and higher credit lines available to them than people who live in other parts of the country - making it that much easier to amass too much high credit card debt that cannot easily be paid off.
New Hampshire - along with New Jersey - also has the highest percentage, at 20%, of consumers who carry and use10 or more credit cards. The FICO scores (named after the Fair Isaac Corporation) were introduced in the 1960s as a method of measuring a person's credit rating and to assess the likelihood of them being able to pay back a loan on time - scores range from the lowest, 330, to the highest at 830. In New Hampshire, the average FICO score is around 715; a very low FICO score can make it difficult to get a competitive interest rate on a mortgage or car loan.
You may know yourself how easy it is to get caught up in the credit card trap - once you have a balance on several cards with high interest rates, it can be very difficult to make the minimum monthly payment, even harder to pay anything extra. New Hampshire residents carry more cards than people in other parts of the country and carry an average balance of around $6100. The average APR (annual percentage rate) for credit cards used in the state is around 14.53%. If you find yourself using your credit card for everyday purchases such as gas and groceries, or using one card to pay another, it's a sure sign that you have too much credit card debt.
Spiraling debt for many New Hampshire residents has also led to an unprecedented number of bankruptcies. Since March 2006, bankruptcies in the Granite State have been increasing rapidly, according to the federal judiciary and in July 2009, there were almost 500 bankruptcies filed in the state - the most in a single month since 2005, when new rules made it more difficult to file. It can be difficult for many NH residents to see a practical and realistic alternative to filing bankruptcy if they just are not able to pay all their debts - if this sounds very like your situation, there are other options that you can and should consider.
Being laid off can make the problem of credit card debt even worse. Perhaps you are one of the many New Hampshire residents that have lost their job during the recent recession. Although the state is not the hardest hit in the country, as of August 2009, almost 7% of workers in the state were out of work, which represents just over 51,000 people. Job losses and layoffs have affected the entire state to some degree, although the worst hit areas are the larger cities and towns - Manchester, Portsmouth and Keene - as well as the sparsely populated north of the state.
One thing you should do is understand the terms of your various credit card contracts by reading through the small print; if necessary, call your credit card company to clarify anything that isn't clear. Your card issuer may be agreeable to lowering interest rates or eliminating or lowering some of the other charges, such as late fees. In 2004 alone, credit card companies made over $40 billion from various fees, including late fees and balance transfer fees. If you have a balance of $1,000 on your card and are only ever making the minimum payment every month, it will take you several years to pay the balance off; it will also have cost you several hundred dollars to do so.
If you are a NH resident who is struggling with too much credit card debt, you may be interested in participating in a debt reduction program, sometimes also known as debt consolidation. Debt consolidation involves working with a company who specializes in negotiating with all your creditors for lower monthly payment amounts. These amounts are then all added together, which means that you only have to write one check every month instead of several. It's also possible to have the payment amount automatically debited from your bank account every month. Virtually all major creditors participate in debt consolidation programs - it's better for them to have their customers making a lower payment than paying nothing at all.
Not only does debt consolidation help to lower your monthly payments; it also means that your creditors will stop calling you at all hours to request that you pay them. Another major advantage of participating in a debt consolidation program is that the company will generally communicate with your creditors, so you don't have to. And you can be assured that the program is discreet - most people are able to participate in the program without family or employers knowing about it. A debt consolidation plan will not only take care of your credit card debt, it also includes your other unsecured loans, such as medical bills and store cards.
Debt consolidation is almost certainly a better option for you and your family than declaring bankruptcy. A bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for up to 10 years; it will also make it extremely difficult to get any kind of credit, auto loan or mortgage for the foreseeable future. It will also cost you to file for bankruptcy and the fact that you have filed will be common knowledge - your friends and family, even your employer can potentially access and find out this information. Our website will answer all the questions that you may have about the debt consolidation process, so you can decide if it is the right thing for you and your family.
We Can Help You!
The poor economy has affected almost everybody in one way or another, not only in New Hampshire, but throughout the entire United States. If you are a New Hampshire resident with too much credit card debt and just cannot afford to pay your credit card bills, it's important to understand that you do have options, whether you live in one of the major cities such as Keene, Manchester, Portsmouth, and Concord or somewhere in the NH countryside. We are here to help you reduce your debt, offer personal solutions to you and get your financial life back on track!
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State Guides to Credit Card Laws
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