Aussie households join Government in debt

Aussie households join Government in debt

It’s not just the federal government that’s swimming in debt. 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), many Australians have taken the plunge and found themselves in debt – whether from excessive credit card use or otherwise. However, the outlook isn’t all that bad.

In fact, using credit cards and other financial products in the right way can help build a strong credit rating. Households can be aware of the ramifications of such products and adjust their spending habits accordingly. 

Money, money, money

According to the 2014-15 federal budget overview, government debt was $667 billion at the 2013-14 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

Measures are in place to reduce this debt, while these existing figures mirror other debt trends. Just as in the hallowed chambers of parliament, the issue of debt has crawled into everyday Australian households.

The ABS notes that the spread of household debt isn’t even – while some households are deep in the red, others have no debt at all. In 2011-12, the 20 percent of households with the lowest amount of wealth had an average of $31,000 of wealth. 

In a marked contrast, the highest wealth quintile had an average wealth figure of over $2.2 million.

It’s not always about a little or a lot

The ABS noted that between 2003-04 and 2011-12, seven out of 10 Australian households had debt, be it a home loan, accumulation of bills or credit card debt.

“A high level of debt could be difficult to manage for some households with few assets and little income,” the ABS noted.

However, high-income households aren’t exempt from debt.

“On the other hand, high levels of debt held by some wealthy, high income households could reflect their desire and ability to use debt to acquire wealth faster than would have been possible if they hadn’t borrowed,” the ABS explained.

No matter a household’s wealth, a focus on shaping a good credit rating is a must.

Credit demand soars seasonally

Despite the high number of Australians that have a lot of debt, more households are still seeking credit. The Veda Quarterly Consumer Credit Demand Index for the March Quarter found overall consumer demand for credit rose 3.1 percent year-on-year. 

“Credit demand in the March quarter is typically strong, following the seasonal peak in spending and borrowing associated with Christmas trading. Certainly this was the case with January and February eclipsing demand for the same months in 2013,” Angus Luffman, Veda’s General Manager of Consumer Risk, said. 

Credit cards were the main driver of this growth, rising by 6.4 percent over the year. 

If you’re one of the many Australians with debt or seeking credit, make sure you’re paying off what you owe to boost your credit rating. 

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Learn more about credit cards

How to get rid of credit card debt

  1. Calculate your debt. Credit card calculators make it easy to determine the repayments required to chip away at your debt in the shortest timeframe possible for your budget.
  2. Repayment plans. Take some time to formulate a credit repayment plan. Consider increasing your income, scaling back your lifestyle or refinancing.
  3. Talk to your credit provider. If you’re still struggling with your debt, give your credit provider a call. You may be able to come to a new arrangement.

Monthly repayment

This is how much you can afford to pay on a monthly basis off your credit card. You can enter any amount you wish; but to make the balance transfer worthwhile the default is $200.

Should I get a credit card?

Once you've compared credit card interest rates and deals and found the right card for you, the actual process of getting a credit card is quite straightforward. You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at a bank branch. 

Increase your credit card limit with Westpac

A credit card can be a useful tool to access extra cash when you need it. Sometimes you may wish to increase your credit card limit for greater financial flexibility. For example, to realize your immediate goals faster, such as planning for an international holiday or making a big purchase.

You can apply to increase your credit limit at any time, and most credit card providers have made it really easy to do so. You can use your online banking portal, the credit card provider’s mobile app, or even the telephone. 

Applying online to increase your credit limit with Westpac is the easiest option if you’ve already activated Westpac Live Online Banking. All you need to do is fill in the required information and then hit ‘submit’ to apply for an increase in your credit card limit.

Most banks will ask for details of your financial situation at the time of applying for a credit increase. This is done to ensure your new limit meets the lender’s criteria. 

You can apply for increasing your credit limit in any of the following ways:

  1. Visiting your nearest Westpac branch
  2. Calling Westpac on 1300 651 089
  3. Logging in on Westpac Live Online Banking

Current Annual Fees

These are the current annual fees on your existing credit card.

How can I increase my Bankwest credit card limit?

When you apply for a Bankwest credit card, you get assigned a pre-set credit limit, which will end up being the most that you can spend on your credit card before having to pay it off. Your credit limit is chosen for you and your current financial situation, and you should remember not to overspend, irrespective of the limit, in order to avoid racking up a massive bill.

However, banks and lenders understand that your needs will change, and have made it possible for you to increase your credit card limit, allowing you to get extra cash when you need it most. Moreover, with a higher spending limit, you may be able to get access to certain perks and benefits with your Bankwest credit card.

To increase your Bankwest credit card limit, you can visit any of the bank’s branches or call 13 17 19 and follow the steps outlined.

How to pay a credit card from another bank

Paying or transferring debt from one lender to the other is called a balance transfer. This involves transferring part or all of the debt from a credit card with one lender to a credit card with another. As part of the process, your new lender will pay out the old lender, so that you now owe the same amount of money but to a new institution.

Many credit card providers offer an interest-free period on balance transfers to help new applicants better handle their debt. During this period, cardholders are not required to pay interest on the debt they brought over from the other card. This can be a great opportunity for consumers to pay off credit card debt with no interest. There are often fees associated with balance transfers; normally, these are a percentage of the amount transferred.

So make sure you read the terms and conditions of the card before transferring any debt across.

What is a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer credit card lets you transfer your debt balance from one credit card to another. A balance transfer credit card generally has a 0 per cent interest rate for a set period of time. When you roll your debt balance over to a new credit card, you’ll be able to take advantage of the interest-free period to pay your credit card debt off faster without accruing additional interest charges. If your application is approved, the provider will pay out your old credit card and transfer your debt balance over to the new card. 

How easy is it to get a credit card?

For most Australians, there are no great barriers to applying for and getting approved for a credit card. Here are some points that a lender will consider when assessing your credit card application.

Credit score: A bad credit score is not the be all and end all of your application, but it may stop you being approved for a higher credit limit. If your credit score is less than perfect, apply for the credit limit that you need, rather than the one you want.

Annual income: Most credit cards have minimum annual income requirements. Make sure you’re applying for a card where you meet the minimum.

Age & residency: You need to be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card in Australia, and most require that you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident. However, there are some credit cards available to temporary residents.

How do I apply for a BOQ credit card limit increase?

If you’re an existing BOQ customer, you can request a BOQ credit card limit increase over a phone call. However, you should remember that owning and using a credit card is a matter of financial responsibility, so it might be worth thinking this decision through. 

When requesting a credit card limit increase, you’ll need to be just as responsible in terms of how much you earn and can set aside to repay the outstanding card balance. A credit card company may approve a credit limit increase only if you can show that you have either the income or the disposable income, which is the amount you have left after all expenses have been paid out.

For this purpose, you may need to submit your latest income documents and bank statements for an increase. You may want to estimate how much you usually have left after deducting your expenses, and then use this amount to try and convince the credit card company. Also, you may prefer to pay off the card balance in full each month and thus avoid paying interest on the card, helping you back up any claims of financial responsibility, as well. 

Remember that you may not be able to apply for a credit card limit increase beyond any limitations on the type of card you own. For instance, if you own a card whose ceiling is $10,000, and your current limit is $5,000, you won't likely be able to apply for a $10,000 credit card limit increase.

Are credit checks mandatory?

In Australia it is impossible to get a credit card without the provider performing a credit check first. This is for your benefit, as it helps to prevent you from falling into avoidable debt.

Do you need a credit card to get a loan?

You do not need a credit card to get a loan, but you usually need to have a credit history. Without a credit history, a financial institution cannot assess your ‘credit worthiness’, or your capacity to pay off the loan.

If you don’t have a credit card, your credit history can reflect any record of paying off an asset. Without any credit credit history, you’re limited in the type of loans you can apply for. But you may be able to obtain a secured loan against an asset. For more information on improving your credit score, go here

What should you do if your credit card is compromised?

Credit card fraud is a serious problem. If your credit card is compromised and you’re wondering what to do, here are a few precautionary steps to take.

Contact you credit provider – Get in touch will your credit card provider. If you feel your card has been compromised, you should be able to lock or block it.

Monitor your accounts – Keep an eye on your credit card accounts. Any unauthorised transactions could be a sign your credit card has been compromised.

Check your credit rating – It’s also important to check your credit rating, to ensure you’re not a victim of identity theft or some other financial mischief.

How do you use a credit card?

Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for items in store, online or over the phone. You can use a credit card as a cashless way to pay for goods or services, both locally and overseas. You can also use a credit card to make a cash advance, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Because a credit card uses the bank’s funds instead of your own, you will be charged interest on the money you spend – unless you pay off the entire debt within the interest-free period. If you pay the minimum monthly repayment, you will be charged interest. There are many different credit card options on the market, all offering different interest rates and reward options.