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Credit card debt ticks up in October

Eden Radford avatar
Eden Radford
- 3 min read
Credit card debt ticks up in October

Australia’s total credit card debt attracting interest charges grew by $129 million in the month of October, the first increase since May.

This lift in debt comes as borrowers continue to migrate back to the plastic. The latest RBA credit cards statistics, released today, shows the number of accounts increased by almost 6,000 between September and October and by almost 200,000 compared to a year ago.

Credit card statistics: personal credit in October 2023

Note: commercial cards are excluded

AmountMonthly changeYear-on-year change
Debt accruing interest$17.40 billion+$129 million

0.7%

+$515 million

+3.1%

Number of accounts12.62 million

Highest since March 21

+5,913

0.05%

+198,125

+1.6%

Source: RBA, released 7 December 2023, original data, excludes commercial cards. Monthly change is September 2023 to October 2023, year-on-year change is October 2022 to October 2023.

Balances accruing interest vs number of accounts: personal credit card

Credit card debt accruing interests vs number of accounts

Source: RBA

Total value of transactions: personal credit and debit cards in October 2023

AmountMonthly changeYear-on-year change
Credit (personal cards only)$26.77 billion-$385 million

-1.4%

+$481 million

+1.8%

Debit$49.21 billion+$394 million

+0.8%

+$3.68 billion

+8.1%

Total$75.98 billion+$9 million

+0.01%

+$4.16 billion

+5.8%

Source: RBA, released 7 December 2023, seasonally adjusted data, excludes commercial cards. Monthly change is September 2023 to October 2023, year-on-year change is October 2022 to October 2023.

RateCity.com.au research director, Sally Tindall, said: “For the last four months, Australians have been making steady progress in bringing down credit card debt, but October’s results have broken this streak.”

“Debt might be up, but it’s not by much when factoring in the rise in the number of cards. On a per account basis, credit card debt accruing interest rose by less than $10, taking the average debt per account to $1,379 – almost half of what it was over a decade ago. Collectively, we’ve come along way when it comes to wizening up to the perils of credit card debt,” she said.

“The problem is, millions of Australians have credit cards and owe nothing, while others have 5 or 10 times this debt.

“All eyes will be on the next four months of data. If history is anything to go by, credit card debt will keep ticking up over the silly season. While this is routinely a headache for many Australians at the start of each New Year, it’s particularly concerning this time around as families will also be battling against rising rates and cost of living pressures.

“If you’ve already blown the budget in the lead up to Christmas, remember, you’ve got time to rein it in.

“Plan out a lower-cost Christmas, find some free activities over summer and get yourself back on track so you can enjoy 2024 rather than dread 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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