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Bad habits coming back: Australia’s credit card debt ticks up for 2nd month in a row

Alex Ritchie avatar
Alex Ritchie
- 4 min read
Bad habits coming back: Australia’s credit card debt ticks up for 2nd month in a row

Australia’s total credit card debt has ticked up for the second month in a row, in a worrying sign some families may be resorting to the plastic to make ends meet.

Data released on Friday from the RBA for the month of November shows the total credit card bill attracting interest charges increased by $419 million to $17.3 billion. This is based on personal credit card data in original terms.

Credit card statistics: personal credit cards in November 2022

Note: credit card analysis is based on personal credit card data and excludes commercial cards. 

Amount

Monthly change

Year-on-year change

Debt accruing interest

$17.30 billion

+$419 million

+2.5%

+$137 million

+0.8%

Number of accounts

12.41 million

+18,262

+0.1%

+2,272

+0.02%

Source: RBA, released 13 Jan 2023, original data, excludes commercial cards. Monthly change is Oct 2022 to Nov 2022, year-on-year change is Nov 2021 to Nov 2022.

CC1

Source RateCity.com.au. RBA, released 13 Jan 2023, original data, excludes commercial cards.

November spending spree hit debit and credit cards hard this month

Australians went on a spending rampage in November, making a gigantic $75.69 billion worth of transactions on their credit and debit cards in just one month – the highest value of monthly transactions in the RBA’s records.

  • Spending on credit and debit cards: November 2022

Amount

Monthly change

Year-on-year change

Value of credit card transactions

$27.55 billion

+$1.40 billion

5.3%

$1.85 billion

7.2%

Value of debit card transactions

$48.14 billion

+$1.85 billion

4.0%

+$5.13 billion

11.9%

Total value of credit and debit transactions

$75.69 billion

$3.25 billion

4.5%

$6.99 billion

10.2%

Source: RBA, released 13 Jan 2023, original data, excludes commercial cards. Monthly change is Oct 2022 to Nov 2022, year-on-year change is Nov 2021 to Nov 2022.

CC2

Source RateCity.com.au. RBA, released 13 Jan 2023, original data, excludes commercial cards.

RateCity.com.au research director, Sally Tindall, said: “Australians opened their wallets in November, spending a mammoth $75.7 billion on their debit and credit cards in just one month.” 

“The Click Frenzy, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales undoubtedly fuelled this surge as Australians stocked up ahead of Christmas,” she said.

“While many people were buying essentials to save money in the months ahead, some shoppers could find themselves in hot water if they can’t pay their credit card balance in full by the time the next bill hits their inbox,” she said.

The record high in debit and credit card transactions comes as Australia’s total credit card debt accruing interest rose for the second month in a row.

“Bad habits look to be creeping back as some households reach for the credit card to make ends meet,” she said.

“Many family budgets have been through the wringer over the last couple of months as the cost of just about everything continues to rise.

“While the credit card can help plug a hole in the budget at the end of the month, it’s a quick fix that can easily unravel when the bills start rolling in.

“It’s often hard to see any other way through the month, but there are options out there if you can’t pay the bills, other than reaching for the plastic.

“Switching to cheaper brands at the supermarket, renegotiating your regular bills, selling things you don’t need around the house – these all may all seem trivial but together the savings can really add up.

“If you do have credit card debt, consider moving it to a lower-rate card or personal loan, where you are forced to pay the money off within a limited time with little capacity to add to it,” 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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