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Australians becoming smarter with their cards as debt falls

23 January 2018

New analysis reveals Australians are becoming smarter in the way they manage their credit cards, with overall debt falling over the past year, the percentage of debt accruing interest at a historical low and a very low use of available credit card limits.

This new analysis by the Australian Bankers’ Association reveals a fall in the country’s overall credit card debt for only the third time in history with the country repaying not just interest but reducing the overall outstanding balance by $260 million to $52.2 billion.

ABA Chief Economist Tony Pearson said the fall in debt reflected increasingly savvy customers.

“Overall credit card holders are becoming more financially savvy, taking care to repay debt and keep their interest costs low,” Mr Pearson said.

“Last year Australians spent nearly $325 billion on credit cards, but repaid $341 billion, $16 billion more than they spent.

“For only the third time ever Australia has reduced its overall amount outstanding on cards – this time by $260 million,” he said.

“Further evidence of prudent use of credit cards is the total amount accruing interest on credit cards remains well below the peak in early 2012, with the proportion of the balance on which interest is paid (61%) close to a record low.

“This means people are now paying interest on a smaller portion of their balance, which helps to keep credit card costs manageable,” Mr Pearson said.

The RBA data also shows that card holders are only using 34 per cent of their available limit, which is the lowest proportion in fifteen years.

Mr Pearson said that the ABA has information for customers who want to learn more about responsible credit card use.

“For those who need more information about better credit habits, the ABA has some great tips on our website.

“With so many different credit cards on the market it’s important to find the card that is right for you – so shop around!

“Other important tips for managing your credit card include keeping a track of spending and ensuring that you don’t fall behind with your repayments,” he said.

For more info on credit card use go to the ABA website.

ENDS

Contact: Rory Grant 0475 741 007

Figure 1: Credit balance and amount accruing interest

Source – RBA

Figure 2 – Repayments vs spending: difference (annual basis)

Source – RBA

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