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Texas senior citizens carry most debt in nation, Lending Tree report says

January 11, 2019

Elderly Texans carry more debt than anywhere else in the nation, according to a Lending Tree report.

San Antonio, Austin and Houston seniors led the nation with the most non-mortgage debt, according to analysis of approximately 75,000 Lending Tree users between the ages of 65 and 70 years old.

San Antonio seniors had the most non-mortgage debt of anywhere in the country, with $29,993, and Austin had the second most with $26,424. Houston seniors came in third, carrying a median of $26,219 in debt.

The average credit score for seniors nationally was 701, according to the study, and the national average for senior debt was $20,643 -- $5,576 less than Houston seniors.

The high debt in Texas was led by auto loans. Of their total liabilities, 44.4 percent of Houston senior debt is an auto loan, compared with 37.7 percent nationally. Texans have proportionally less student loan debt than the national average.

Kalie McFadden, a senior research analyst at Lending Tree, told CNBC that the large amount of auto loans could be due to the popularity of trucks in Texas. “They’re expensive,” she said.

Generally, southern cities carried more debt than the rest of the nation. Oklahoma City, OK; Richmond, VA; and Memphis, TN were also in the top ten cities with the most senior debt.

Debt can force retirees to draw upon Social Security earlier than expected or withdraw from retirement accounts. To reduce debt, seniors can try to pay debts off ahead of retirement, refinance or consolidate debt or pursue debt relief, according to Lending Tree.

In Harris County, 29 percent of the population has auto debt, according to a December CNBC report, which used data from the Urban Institute. Nonwhite areas of Harris County have a higher rate of auto debt, with 32 percent. Harris County residents have a higher delinquency rate of auto and retail debt than the rest of the state: 8 percent versus 7 percent.

Consumers have taken out more in auto loans in the past five years as vehicle prices have increased, according to a report from USA Today. New vehicle prices were up 2 percent year-over-year as of September 2018, according to MarketWatch.

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