In January 2019, a report came out describing New Jersey as a state among those with the most credit card debt. Credit card debt can be crushing, especially for those who have lost a job or now have no way to pay back what they owe.

Credit card debt is among the worst for a few reasons, but the primary issue is the high interest rates found on these cards. With interest rates that can be 25% to 30% on some cards, it’s no wonder that people feel like they are treading water trying to pay back what they owe.

In 2019, New Jersey ranked high for high average card balances

According to a report from 24/7 Wall St., New Jersey residents started 2019 with an average balance of $7,151 on their credit cards. The average credit score was only 686, and people had, on average, 3.5 credit cards. The state also has a higher average cost of living at approximately 13.2% higher than the national average.

What is the common thread among people who have higher credit card balances?

Higher balances don’t necessarily mean a higher debt-to-income ratio. The reality is that when people have more cards, they typically have higher balances. This usually is reflective of a person or family with a higher income.

States that carry more debt tend to have people who earn more than others. Those people then carry more credit cards per person.

If you’re struggling with debt, what are your options?

High balances can be a problem if you lose your job, change jobs or lose hours in the workplace. If you situation changes and you find that you can’t pay what you owe, then you may want to look into bankruptcy.

Depending on your income, you may qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Both types are effective for reducing or eliminating what you owe, though they work differently. Chapter 7 requires the liquidation of unexempt assets, while Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires you to participate in a payment plan for the next three to five years.

There are alternatives to bankruptcy, such as setting up a debt-consolidation loan or negotiating with creditors to settle debts that are owed. Bankruptcy isn’t the only solution for those who are struggling, but it can be an effective way to have debts discharged and to help prevent creditors from continuing to call and harass them. If you’re struggling, bankruptcy may be the right option. It’s worth looking into.