Detroit: Debt Scorecard

A Credit Karma Study

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The “Motor City” has witnessed a dramatic decline in population since the mid-20th century, but Detroit is still one of the largest cities in the United States, with a population of more than 630,000 people, according to 2020–2021 U.S. census estimates. According to Credit Karma data from Aug. 17, 2022, the average overall debt of the 177,236 Credit Karma members who live in Detroit is $22,208 — the lowest out of America’s 100 largest cities. In this case, overall debt is made up of auto loans, auto leases, student loans, mortgages, credit card balances and medical debt. (Click here for the full methodology.)

Read on to see a snapshot of debt in Detroit.

Overall debt in Detroit

The 177,236 Credit Karma members living in Detroit held a combined total debt of about $6 billion. The average overall debt for individuals was $22,208, but the median overall debt was only $8,290 — representing a smaller gap between average and median overall debt than for members in many other major cities. The average next payment on that debt is $268.

In contrast, the national average debt for Credit Karma members is $49,454, and the median is $11,223.

Detroit’s debt dial

detroitdebtgaugeImage: detroitdebtgauge

Auto loans, student loans, mortgage and credit card debt in Detroit

The table that follows contains averages and medians for different types of debt among Credit Karma members in Detroit.

Debt typeNumber of Credit Karma members with debt typeAverage debtMedian debtAverage next payment
Auto loan105,612$19,514$16,330$486
Student loan80,038$30,439$15,035$23
Credit card159,126$4,501$1,921$144

So how do residents of Detroit compare to the national member averages? The table that follows compares the national average against the averages in Detroit among Credit Karma members.

Debt typeNational average debt of Credit Karma membersDetroit member average debt
Auto loan$24,042$19,514
Student loan$32,004$30,439
Credit card$6,469$4,501

How does Detroit rank against other cities?

We compared averages for Credit Karma members living in the top 100 cities by population according to 2021 U.S. census population estimates.

Out of the top 100 cities, Detroit has the lowest overall average debt among Credit Karma members.

Here’s how Detroit members ranked against the other top 100 cities in America.

  • Auto loan debt: 96th highest
  • Credit card debt: 100th highest
  • Student loan debt: 67th highest
  • Mortgage debt: 99th highest

Credit, inquiries and past-due accounts in Detroit

Among Credit Karma members in Detroit, the average VantageScore 3.0 credit score was 607 and the median was 603, both of which are considered fair. The national average VantageScore 3.0 for Credit Karma members was 673, while the median was 682.

Detroit members had an average of five inquiries on their credit reports, while the national average was 4.2.

Residents of Detroit average 0.89 accounts that were 30 days past due. The national average is 0.74 accounts.


To determine averages across categories of debt — including auto lease, auto loan, credit card, mortgage, student loan, medical and total debt — we analyzed the accounts of about 177,000 Credit Karma members living in Detroit who had been active on the site within the last 36 months. Averages were based on information from members’ TransUnion credit reports from the 90 days previous to the data pull, which was on Aug. 17, 2022. For the purposes of this analysis, auto lease, auto loan, credit card, mortgage, medical and student loan debt is defined as any unpaid balances existing on members’ open accounts in aggregate at the time the data was pulled. All numbers in this report were rounded to the nearest whole.

Note that all data for this article were pulled on Aug. 17, 2022.