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Australia’s credit card debt rises for 4th consecutive month

National credit card debt rose for the fourth consecutive month to $17.44 billion, according to new data from the RBA today.

Debt accumulating interest on personal credit cards in February was up $50.8 million from the previous month, in initial terms.

The number of accounts remained relatively stable, increasing by only 4,853 accounts, to reach a total of 12.4 million.

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

Credit card statistics: personal credit cards in February 2022

Rising Monthly change Year-over-year variation
Number of accounts

12.4 million

4,853

0.04%

-287,855

-2.3%

Value of transactions

$21.58 billion

$515.7 million

2.4%

$1.86 billion

9.4%

Interest bearing balances

$17.44 billion

$50.8 million

0.3%

-2.25 billion dollars

-11.4%

Source: RBA, published April 7, 2022, original data, excluding commercial charts. The monthly change is from January 2022 to February 2022, the annual change is from February 2021 to February 2022.

RateCity.com.au research director Sally Tindall said: “Credit card debt has risen for the fourth consecutive month. While the rises have, so far, been relatively subdued, it is a red flag that some Australians are raising hard.

“Australians have made huge strides in credit card debt over the past two years. It’s nerve-wracking to see some of that hard work unravel,” she said.

“You only have to go to the petrol station or the supermarket to know that inflation is on the rise and this is putting pressure on some family budgets.

“Families struggling to squeeze the monthly budget up should look high and low for a more permanent solution instead of sticking any excess on the credit card.

“Credit debt bearing interest at 17% – sometimes even more – is the last thing people need if they’re struggling to get their bills under control.

“If you’re struggling to make ends meet, look for ongoing ways to provide relief. Switching utility providers, cutting back on meals and rotating your entertainment subscriptions may seem like a trivial matter, but it all adds up,” she said.

Source: RBA.

Tips for Dealing with Credit Card Debt

  • Call your bill providers (energy, telco, etc.) and ask for a temporary reprieve.
  • Cut back on non-essential spending until your credit card is in the black again.
  • Ask your credit card provider for a lower interest rate or consider switching to a low rate card.
  • An alternative is to convert your debt into a personal loan that requires you to repay the debt in full.
  • Once you’ve settled your debt, consider reducing your credit card limit or removing the card altogether.