From the slopes of Colorado to the wilds of Alaska, the western U.S. has got more hot credit card spots than anywhere in America. MapInfo, a market research firm in Troy, N.Y., has provided 10 cities with the highest per capita propensity for credit card ownership — all fall above the national average (100 equals the national average). Jon Winslow, director of product placement at MapInfo, says, “These cities offer new growth and more opportunity. It’s the new ‘Go west, young man’ philosophy.”

  1. ANCHORAGE
    General credit card index: 130.03
    Spending potential*: 18,357
    Says Erika Siegel of the Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau: “Anchorage is safe and exotic, making it a great place to live.” Anchorage, population 402,301, boasts Alaska’s only Nordstrom. An added perk: No sales tax.
  2. BEND, ORE.
    General credit card index: 126.59
    Spending potential: 6,399
    Families in Bend, population 134,082, can enjoy a visit to Newberry Volcano, skiing at Mt. Bachelor and whitewater rafting through Benham Falls — all in one day (and on the credit card, of course).
  3. BOISE, IDAHO
    General credit card index: 126.45
    Spending potential: 28,519
    Located downtown is historic 8th Street, where buildings have been renovated and now house specialty shops and restaurants. The city, population 634,930, also holds live music and entertainment events downtown for locals.
  4. RENO
    General credit card index: 125.75
    Spending potential: 31,108
    Reno, population 670,974, has an ideal climate and low cost of living. “Quality of life is what’s driving people to relocate here,” says Julie Ardedo of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.
  5. COLORADO SPRINGS-PUEBLO, COLO.
    General credit card index: 124.98
    Spending potential: 37,945
    Some upscale shops that have Colorado Springs, population 840,556, sporting credit cards include: Terra Verde (bath and body), Scalabra (furniture) and Pendleton of Colorado (women’s clothing).
  6. ALBUQUERQUE-SANTA FE, N.M.
    General credit card index: 124.04
    Spending potential: 77,447
    The Albuquerque-Santa Fe area not only offers residents ideal weather, but land conservation is just as important to the region, population 1,751,519, as its economic development continues.
  7. DENVER
    General credit card index: 123.7
    Spending potential: 168,596
    Denver, population 3,715,538, has gained accolades for its quality of life and growth in business. “The affluent neighborhoods are attracting young married couples and single professionals,” says Jon Winslow at MapInfo.
  8. PHOENIX
    General credit card index:
    123.17
    Spending potential: 193,724
    Known as the premier upscale shopping center of Phoenix, population 4,408,145, Biltmore Fashion Park holds a host of retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Cartier, Gucci and Escada.
  9. FAIRBANKS, ALASKA
    General credit card index: 121.46
    Spending potential: 3,610
    Downtown Fairbanks, population 84,767, offers shops selling Alaskan jewelry, furs and Eskimo arts and crafts. Gold Rush Town is a shopping center that consists of log cabins serving as retail shops.
  10. CASPER-RIVERTON, WYO.
    General credit card index: 121.06
    Spending potential: 5,803
    The Casper-Riverton area, population 129,937, is seeing a boom in new housing developments, according to Winslow. Families are relocating to larger homes — and using their credit cards to decorate.
SOURCE: MAPINFO, IN TROY, N.Y. *Spending potential is defined as the number of adults in the city likely to have a personal line of credit.

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