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Australians went on a record breaking $25.7 billion credit card spending-spree in November – but can they pay it back now?

Australians went on a record breaking $25.7 billion credit card spending-spree in November – but can they pay it back now?

Australians put $25.7 billion worth of transactions on their credit cards in November – the highest value since records began in 2002.

The RBA data for November 2021, released today, also shows debit card transactions were at a record high – hitting $43.01 billion. In total, almost $69 billion worth of transactions were made on both personal credit cards and debit cards.

Worryingly, debt accruing interest on credit cards has risen by $74.8 million month-on-month, the first time it has gone up since May 2021.

The country was freshly out of lockdown in November, COVID cases were relatively low, and retailers were offering big discounts in the Click Frenzy, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Credit card statistics: personal credit cards in November 2021

AmountMonthly changeYear-on-year change
Number of accounts

12.4 million
Lowest since Dec 2006

-731
-0.01%

-449,616
-3.5%

Value of purchases

$25.27 billion
Highest on record

+$4.78 billion
+23.3%

+$2.90 billion
+12.9%

Value of transactions

$25.70 billion
Highest on record

+$4.86 billion
+23.3%

$2.92 billion
+12.8%

Balances accruing interest

$17.16 billion

+$74.8 million
+0.4%

-$2.48 billion
-12.6%

Source: RBA, released 12 January 2022, original data, excludes commercial cards. Monthly change is October to November 2021, year-on-year change is Nov 2020 to Nov 2021.

Debit card statistics: November 2021

AmountMonthly changeYear-on-year change
Number of accounts

36.3 million

+144,746
0.4%

+1.4 million
+4.0%

Value of purchases

$42.21 billion

Highest on record

+$4.87 billion
+13.1%

+$6.32 billion
+17.6%

Total value of transactions

$43.01 billion

Highest on record

+$4.98 billion
+13.1%

+$6.34 billion
+17.3%

Source: RBA, released 12 January 2022, original data. Monthly change is October 2021 to November 2021, year-on-year change is November 2020 to November 2021.

RateCity.com.au research director, Sally Tindall, said: “Australians went on a post lockdown spending-spree, making the most of being able to go to the shops in the pre-Christmas sales.”

“This spending splurge is likely to be short-lived, with the Omicron COVID variant hitting in December, forcing many households to isolate and some businesses to temporarily close,” she said.

“The issue for many Australians who overspent on their credit cards or buy now pay later accounts is that they may now have trouble paying it all back.

“Credit card debt accruing interest has gone up for the first time in six months, as some Australians dusted off their wallets and abandoned their thrifty COVID ways.

“This problem could get worse over the next couple of months, especially for people impacted by COVID who haven’t worked the hours they were expecting to.

“Anyone struggling to make their credit card or buy now, pay later repayments should call their provider and ask for help before getting stung with late fees and interest charges,” she said.

22.01.12 nov credit card spending graph.JPG

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This article was reviewed by Head of Public Relations Laine Gordon before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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