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These 30 U.S. cities have the most auto-loan debt

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

Residents of cities across the U.S. are struggling with auto-loan debt.

Around 17 million new cars were sold in the U.S. last year, most financed either directly though a dealership or via a private loan. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s latest report on household indebtedness, auto-loan balances have grown steadily over the past eight years, increasing by an additional $18 billion in Q3 2019.

WalletHub compared the median auto-loan balance of more than 2,500 U.S. cities. They then divided the median car-loan debt by residents’ income. The median income for each city is based on the 2018 earnings of individuals aged 16 and older who worked full-time year-round, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The figure excludes income from sources other than work. The sample considered only city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.

The following cities earned a spot in the 99th percentile of all cities surveyed.

No. 30 (tie) – Raeford, North Carolina

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Photo courtesy of Hoke County, NC – Official Website

Residents of the town of Raeford, in Hoke County, have $19,841 in median auto-loan debt. The town’s median income is $32,145. That’s a 62 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 30 (tie) – Mission, Texas

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The city in Hidalgo County has $22,737 in median auto-loan debt. Mission’s median income is $36,825. Its debt-to-income ratio is the same as Raeford, North Carolina’s and two other towns on this list.

No. 30 (tie) – Live Oak, Florida

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Live Oak, Florida residents have a debt-to-income ratio of 62 percent. Its residents have median auto-loan debt of $16,846 and a median income of $27,111.

No. 30 (tie) – San Benito, Texas

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Residents of the town of San Benito, in Cameron County, have $18,655 in median auto-loan debt. The town’s median income is $30,132. That’s good for a 62 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 26 (tie) – Richmond, Texas

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Just north of I-69 and south of Sugar Land, Texas is Richmond where the median auto-loan debt amount is $20,835 and the median income is $33,304. That’s a 63 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 26 (tie) – Tolleson, Arizona

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Interstate 10 in Maricopa County, west of Phoenix, runs straight through Tolleson, Arizona, where residents has a median incomes of $30,688 but struggle under $19,220 in median auto-loan debt, Like Tifton, Georgia, that’s a 63 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 26 (tie) – Tifton, Georgia

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The Friendly City in South Georgia has a median income of $28,539 and median auto-loan debt of $18,073 – a 63 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 26 (tie) – Pharr, Texas

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Like fellow Hidalgo County citizens in Mission, Texas, Pharr residents have a high debt-to-income ratio – Pharr’s is 63 percent. The median auto-loan debt in town is $19,865 and the median salary is $31,613.

No. 22 (tie) – Weslaco, Texas

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Weslaco is another Hidalgo County town with a high auto-loan debt-to-income ratio, though their 64 percent ratio is higher than Pharr’s. The median income for residents is $35,432 and median amount of debt is $22,561.

No. 22 (tie) – Uvalde, Texas

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Halfway between San Antonio and the U.S.-Mexico border to the west sits Uvalde, Texas. Uvalde residents have a high debt-to-income ratio – 64 percent. The median auto-loan debt in town is $19,484 and the median salary is $30,545

No. 22 (tie) – Mount Pleasant, Texas

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A 7.5 hour drive north east of Uvalde is Mount Pleasant, Texas where residents have a median income of $30,826 and a median auto-loan debt amount of $19,712, a 64 percent auto-loan debt-to-income ratio.

No. 22 (tie) – Moultrie, Georgia

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Moultrie, out in southwest Georgia, is in a similar situation with a 64 percent debt-to-income ratio. Residents of Moultire have a median amount of $17,545 in auto-loan debt and a median income of $27,401.

No. 22 (tie) – Alamo, Texas

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Photo courtesy of Travel Texas

Residents of the town of Alamo, Texas, a 3.75 hour drive south of The Alamo, $18,655 in median auto-loan debt. The town’s median income is $32,884. That’s good for a 64 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 17 (tie) – Walterboro, South Carolina

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Walterboro is smack dab in the middle of South Carolina’s Low Country halfway between Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. Its residents have a median annual income of $26,108 and a median auto loan debt amount of $16,946. That’s a debt-to-income ratio of 65 percent.

No. 17 (tie) – Coachella, California

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All the way on the other side of the U.S., in Coachella, California, the town’s residents have a median income of $28,100 and a median auto-loan debt amount of $$18,383. That’s a 65 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 17 (tie) – Douglas, Georgia

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Douglas, Georgia residents are in a similar boat owing a median amount of $21,198 and having a median income of $32,604.

No. 17 (tie) – Mercedes, Texas

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Residents of the town of Mercedes, halfway between McAllen and Brownsville, Texas, have $18,696 in median auto-loan debt. The town’s median income is $28,792. That’s good for a 65 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 13 – San Juan, Texas

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San Juan, Texas, which is next to Pharr, has residents with a debt-to-income ratio of 66 percent. Its residents have median auto-loan debt of $20,514 and a median income of $31,191.

No. 12 (tie) – Willis, Texas

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The city one hour north of Houston has a median amount of $21,067 in auto-loan debt. Mission’s median income is $31,250. Its debt-to-income ratio is 67 percent.

No. 12 (tie) – Cedartown, Georgia

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Cedartown is out in West Georgia nearly to the Alabama state line. Its residents have a median amount of $18,319 in median auto-loan debt. Cedartown’s median income is $27,189. Its debt-to-income ratio is 67 percent.

No. 12 (tie) – Rio Grande City, Texas

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Rio Grand City sits (you guessed it) along the Rio Grande in South Texas where the median auto-loan debt amount is $22,756 and the median income is $33,805. That’s a 67 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 12 (tie) – Big Spring, Texas

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Residents of the town of Big Spring, whose closest big town neighbor is Midland, Texas, have a median amount of $23,486 in auto-loan debt. The town’s median income is $35,164. That’s good for a 67 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 8 (tie) – Brownsville, Texas

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Photo courtesy of the Brownsville CVB

Residents of Brownsville, right on the South Texas coast, have a median auto-loan debt amount of $19,685. The residents’ median income is $29,003. That’s a 68 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 8 (tie) – Alice, Texas

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Alice, Texas is the seat of Jim Wells County and sits just west of Corpus Christi. Its residents have a median auto-loan debt amount of $24,116 and a median income of $29,003. That equates to a 68 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 8 (tie) – Lake Placid, Florida

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Located just south of Sebring International Raceway, Lake Placid’s residents also have a 68 percent auto-loan debt-to-income ratio. They earn a median amount of $23,125 each year and have $15,672 in auto-loan debt. It is worth noting that the figure is the lowest amount of auto-loan debt of any resident group on this list.

No. 5 (tie) – San Luis, Arizona

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Sitting on the U.S.-Mexico border, San Luis residents have a median income of $28,337. They have a median amount of $20,578 in auto-loan debt. That’s a 68 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 5 (tie) – Cordele, Georgia

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Those that live in the self-described Watermelon Capital of the World has a median income of $25,522 but owe a median amount of $18,624 in auto-loan debt. That’s a 73 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 3 – Donna, Texas

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Residents of the city of Donna have a median auto-loan debt of $21,305 and median income of $26,870. The Hidalgo County city has a debt-to-income ratio of 79 percent.

No. 2 – Dahlonega, Georgia

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Photo courtesy of Explore Georgia, Geoff Johnson

The city that was home to America’s first gold rush it under water when it comes to auto loans. The median auto-loan debt of residents is $18,504 while the median income is just $22,338. That’s and 83 percent debt-to-income ratio.

No. 1 – Bastrop, Louisiana

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The city of Bastrop, Louisiana takes the (tarnished) crown in this survey, with median auto-loan debt of $18,485 and median income of $22,021. That’s good for an 84 percent debt-to-income ratio.

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