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Australia stuck in a rut as credit card debt hovers at $20 billion

Australia stuck in a rut as credit card debt hovers at $20 billion

Australians appear to be stuck in a debt rut with new RBA figures out today showing credit card debt accruing interest is hovering around $20 billion for the tenth month in a row.

The RBA data for personal credit card accounts shows a slight month-on-month increase of 0.5 per cent in May, taking the total credit card debt to $20.06 billion, in original terms.

Note this data excludes commercial credit cards.

While significant progress has been made over the last two years, with credit card debt dropping by $9.24 billion, it appears the debt that’s left is stubbornly hanging around.

Credit card debt may.JPG

Source: RBA, released 7 July 2021, original data, excludes commercial cards.

Credit card statistics: personal credit cards

Amount

Monthly change

Change from

1 yr ago

Change from

2 yrs ago

Number of accounts

12,545,353

Lowest since Mar 2007

-40,376

-0.3%

856,483

-6.4%

-2,079,760

-14.2%

Value of transactions

$22.25 billion

$1.02 billion

4.8%

$5.19 billion

30.4%

-$882 million

-3.8%

Debt accruing interest

$20.06 billion

$100 million

0.5%

-$3.73 billion

-15.7%

-$9.24 billion

-31.5%

Source: RBA, released 7 July 2021, original data, excludes commercial cards. Monthly change is April – May 2021, year-on-year change is May 2020 to May 2021, change from 2 years ago is May 2019 to May 2021.

RateCity.com.au research director, Sally Tindall, said: “Incredibly, in just two years, Australia’s credit card debt has been cut by almost a third, but now that momentum has been lost.”

“Australia appears to be stuck in a credit card debt rut,” she said.

“While debt accruing interest is hovering around $20 billion, the number of credit card accounts is continuing to drop, which means some people may actually be taking on more debt.

“For anyone struggling with credit card debt, don’t give up. There are options available to help you get back into the black.

“One option is to switch the debt to a personal loan where you are given a schedule to repay the money in full, without being able to rack up new debt.

“There is a possibility credit card debt might continue to creep up again slightly in the coming months as small business owners and casual workers affected by lockdowns turn to their credit cards to pay the bills.

“Don’t be afraid to call your bank to see what options they can offer you. Banks have hardship policies in place to help you get through,” she said.

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This article was reviewed by Research Director Sally Tindall before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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