NEW YORK (MainStreet) -– Credit card debt is a national concern but also an increasingly local problem.

Recently, the folks CreditCards.com looked at the balance on the average person's credit cards in the 25 largest U.S. metro areas, based on credit report data from credit bureau Experian. Across the nation, they discovered that the average $4,410 balance in 2014 would take the typical working person 13 months to pay off, costing $327 in interest. The time it takes to pay that balance was calculated using 15% of the median earnings for each city (a rule of thumb used by credit counselors setting up debt repayment plans), according to Census Bureau figures.

However, that debt varied widely by location. Among the 25 metro areas surveyed, New York City (11 months, $293 interest), Minneapolis/St. Paul (11 months, $266 interest), Washington, D.C. (10 months, $286 interest) and Boston (10 months, $267 interest) ranked near the bottom of the debt pile. The leanest of the bunch? The San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose area, which takes just nine months to pay down its credit card bills, earning just $234 in interest).

“It’s interesting that the metro areas with the highest average credit card debt don’t necessarily have the highest debt burdens when adjusted for income,” said Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com’s senior industry analyst. “For example, Washington, D.C. has the nation’s highest average credit card debt [$5,046 per card], but since it has the highest median income in the U.S., its debt burden is lower than all but two metros.”

Granted, San Franciscans have to deal with median home price of $748,300, more than four times the price of a home in the city with the worst credit card debt, according to the National Association of Realtors. However, paying off credit card debt quickly has far more positive implications than stringing out payments while sitting on a pile of equity.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York notes that credit card debt increased by $17 billion last year to $700 billion. That's a distant fourth place to U.S. mortgage debt ($8.17 trillion), student loan debt ($1.16 trillion) and the value of every U.S. car loan ($955 billion), but still exceeds the value of all home equity loans ($510 billion). The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, put total revolving debt at $906.5 billion in June, up from $839.5 billion in all of post-recession 2010. That means more people are using their cards, but that also means they're getting just a little too comfortable with their debt.

The average per-card debt carried per person can be as low as $1,098 for cards that don't carry a balance to $7,743 for those that do. TransUnion puts the national average in the middle at $5,234 per person which is still less than the pre-recession high of $6,276 in 2008. However, that debt has crept steadily upward even as the percentage of U.S. households with credit cards carrying revolving debt has decreased from 44% in 2009 to just 34% today, according to the National Foundation For Credit Counseling.

That isn't doing wonders for people's credit. The FICO score used by credit bureaus to determine the health of one's credit values on-time payment and low balances above all else. In fact, the combination of a spotless payment history (35% of a FICO score) and the amount of debt a cardholder carries in relation to his credit limit -- also known as the credit utilization (30% of a FICO score) -- account for nearly two-thirds of a person's overall credit score. That's bad news when the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says 7.3% of all credit card bills are past due.

There is absolutely no reason to carry a huge credit card balance if you can pay it down. John Rosenfeld, head of everyday banking at Citizens Bank, notes that paying a huge credit card bill more than once a month, shopping around for cards with low interest rates (and transfer fees) and not canceling cards with a remaining balance can all ease the battle against credit card debt. That said, making just the minimum payment won't get you anywhere.

“When you just pay the minimum, you are paying off the interest but hardly making a dent in the actual debt,” he says. “If you can budget to pay more than the minimum, you can eliminate debt sooner and save more in the long run.”

We delved into CreditCards.com's numbers and found the ten cities in most need of Rosenfeld's advice. Each has its own reasons for carrying big credit card debt, but each could just as easily shake it off with some effort:

10. Portland, Ore.

Average balance on credit card: $4,435

Average number of credit cards: 2.07

Median annual earnings for workers 16 and older: $31,652

Months to pay off balance: 13

Interest accrued during payoff period: $319

Forget Portlandia for a moment: Portland is neither a city of retired young people nor a pool of disposable income waiting to be turned into craft beer and steampunk bicycles. The fact is that income here still lags about $7,000 behind Seattle and $13,000 behind San Francisco, on average. Yes, the cost of living is lower, but that doesn't help when you carry credit card debt on par with either of those cities. The money spent at food carts, artisanal doughnut shops and record stores eventually adds up -- to a bill Portland isn't quite ready to pay.

9. Los Angeles

Average balance on credit card: $4,371

Average number of credit cards: 2.18

Median annual earnings for workers 16 and older: $30,427

Months to pay off balance: 13

Interest accrued during payoff period: $323

Yes, part of this boils down to the fact that the Hollywood facade is a thin economic veneer, but Los Angelenos also tend to carry more credit cards in their wallets than residents of just about any city on this list. Combine that with an average income that's not quite Brad Pitt-level, and Los Angeles becomes a perfect storm of mortgage, car and credit-card payments.

8. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.

Average balance on credit card: $4,352

Average number of credit cards: 2.02

Median annual earnings for workers 16 and older: $29,961

Months to pay off balance: 13

Interest accrued during payoff period: $325

It was absolutely punished during the recession and saw its home equity washed out to the gulf during the housing crisis, but the Tampa-St. Pete area still hasn't quite regained its footing. That credit card debt isn't all that high by this list's standards, but average earnings just below $30,000 don't make it easy for folks in this portion of Florida to pay down those invoices. Still, they're faring better than some of their Sunshine State neighbors.

7. Phoenix

Average balance on credit card: $4,483

Average number of credit cards: 2.02

Median annual earnings for workers 16 and older: $31,589

Months to pay off balance: 13

Interest accrued during payoff period: $327

Phoenix doesn't hold all that many credit cards on average, which makes its position on this list somewhat staggering. It takes more than a year to pay down that average debt in the desert, and there isn't a whole lot of relief in the form of earnings.

6. San Diego

Average balance on credit card: $4,639

Average number of credit cards: 2.14

Median annual earnings for workers 16 and older: $32,342

Months to pay off balance: 13

Interest accrued during payoff period: $342

Congratulations, San Diego: You somehow managed to carry even more credit card debt than Los Angeles. We get it: It's tough not to be out there spending when just about every day on the calendar is equally gorgeous. However, the folks at CreditCards.com also note that San Diego is in the equally precarious position of being a big military town, where frequent relocation can make it tough to find work and deployment schedules can drastically alter the amount of cash coming in.

5. Houston

Average balance on credit card: $4,745

Average number of credit cards: 2.18

Median annual earnings for workers 16 and older: $31,919

Months to pay off balance: 13

Interest accrued during payoff period: $363

Nope, not just a town full of oil men. This sprawling metropolis consists of far more than the well-monied energy sector, but it doesn't help that some of the bigger paychecks out there make it tempting to run up a big balance or to spring for that third rewards card.

4. Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Average balance on credit card: $4,325

Average number of credit cards: 2.02

Median annual earnings for workers 16 and older: $27,435

Months to pay off balance: 14

Interest accrued during payoff period: $351

South Florida's housing troubles during the recession were well-documented and hit the people who could afford it least. Again, that balance isn't all that high, and there aren't a whole lot of cards in play. However, when your home equity is minimal or nonexistent and you have expenses that a fixed income has a tough time meeting, a credit card is often the best way of making ends meet.

3. Atlanta

Average balance on credit card: $4,845

Average number of credit cards: 2.0

Median annual earnings for workers 16 and older: $32,086

Months to pay off balance: 14

Interest accrued during payoff period: $376

Atlanta carries the fewest cards on this list but, man, does it love to shop. If you've ever been to the high-end malls and shopping centers in Buckhead, you slowly realize that this is not only one of the few places in the country where mall shopping thrives, but also may be the epicenter of the mall's transformation into a luxury destination. That all comes with a price tag, however, and Atlanta's debt per card is also some of the biggest you'll see on this list...

2. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

Average balance on credit card: $4,902

Average number of credit cards: 2.14

Median annual earnings for workers 16 and older: $32,291

Months to pay off balance: 14

Interest accrued during payoff period: $382

...but everything's bigger in Dallas. Again, not all that many cards in the mix, but look at those balances. There is a whole lot of faith in the economy in Texas -- witness Jerry Jones's massive $1 billion home for the Dallas Cowboys that is slated to pay off its public investment ahead of schedule -- and that leads to a whole lot of spending of money that people believe will be there later. No, oil prices aren't what they once were, but it's going to take a much bigger shock to the system to get DFW to downsize.

1. San Antonio, Texas

Average balance on credit card: $4,800

Average number of credit cards: 1.99

Median annual earnings for workers 16 and older: $27,491

Months to pay off balance: 16

Interest accrued during payoff period: $448

Sure, that Texas swagger applies to San Antonio, too, but 16 months? Excuse San Antonio for its confidence, but it has an unemployment rate below 4% and is giving itself a treat. If only it had the income to afford it. San Antonio's issues aren't with making payments, but rather with only making minimum payments on the huge debt it's amassing. Also, it has a huge military population similar to that of San Antonio and has watched it take on similar debt. Combine that with lower overall take-home pay than every city on this list but Miami, and you have a city spending big Texas money on a tiny South Florida budget.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held TK positions in the stocks mentioned.