Plastic profanities: The 8 credit card sins to avoid

Posted: 26 February 2021 10:31 am
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Credit card misuse is rife in Australia, according to new research by Finder.

A new Finder survey of 690 credit card holders has revealed that 51% of credit card customers have committed a credit card "sin" in the past 12 months.

1 in 5 (20%) card holders have made a late payment, while 18% admitted to impulse buying.

The research shows 17% don't check their credit card statement, while 1 in 10 (10%) have maxed out their credit card.

Only paying the minimum repayment (10%), withdrawing regular cash from a credit card (8%), paying fees for more than 1 card (7%) and applying for credit cards they don't need (5%) round out the top 8 financial faux pas.

There are 13.7 million credit cards in Australia with a national debt accruing interest of $20.9 billion.

That's the equivalent of 7 million credit card holders who've used their card irresponsibly.

Taylor Blackburn, personal finance specialist at Finder, said credit card users are prone to making mistakes when using plastic.

"Better card management can literally save you thousands of dollars in interest and charges," he said.

Blackburn said these credit card misdemeanours can have a negative impact on your finances and even your credit score.

"The biggest loss is a blemished credit score which can impact your chances of getting a card or a loan in the future.

"Be mindful of your card usage – while some lousy actions might only hurt you temporarily, others should be avoided at all costs," he said.

Blackburn said there were some basic measures Aussies could take to protect their credit score.

"Build an emergency fund to avoid maxing out a credit card if you are faced with an unexpected expense," he said.

"Missing a payment attracts a penalty, so set up monthly reminders in your phone to make sure you pay on time."

The research shows men are much more likely to make a late payment on a credit card bill than women.

1 in 4 men (24%) have made a late payment in the past year, compared to only 15% of women.

Have you engaged in any of the following credit card spending behaviours within the past 12 months?
Making a late payment20%
Impulse buying18%
Not checking my statement17%
Maxing out my credit card10%
Only paying the minimum each month10%
Taking out regular cash advances8%
Paying fees for more than one card7%
Applying for new cards I don't need5%
I haven't done any of these49%

Source: Finder survey of 1,004 Australians in January 2021 (tick all that apply)

Methodology:

  • Finder conducted a Qualtrics survey of 1,004 respondents in January 2021.
  • Calculations are based on population data from ABS.

Tips for reducing credit card debt:

  • Take aim at the cards with the higher rates first. The card with the highest interest rate will often cost you the most in the long run, so try to smash the debt on it first. Make sure you are still paying the minimum on any and all cards to protect your credit score and keep you from being charged additional fees.
  • Consider lowering your interest rate to zero. A 0% balance transfer card can help to simplify your finances and consolidate your debts at lower or no interest. The best offers in the market are 0% for up to 2.5 years (30 months), which could save you more than $1,500 in interest on a debt of $5,000.
  • Put your card use on a timeout. Transition away from using credit for purchases (including buy now pay later schemes) and use your cash or debit card. This will help you pay down your debt faster.
  • Stay on top of your budget. Once you know how much is going in and how much you can afford to spend, you will be happier and more at peace. The Finder app can give you a bird's-eye view of your spending and protect against fraudulent spending by alerting you of unusual purchases and if your credit score changes.

Visit Finder's Credit Card Hub to compare more than 270 credit cards available in Australia.

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