Australian Credit Card and Debit Card Statistics

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Discover exactly how the average Australian uses their credit card with our comprehensive guide to credit card statistics

There are 16,089,500 credit cards in Australia as of June 2018, netting a national debt accruing interest of $33 billion. For many Australians, managing credit and debt through credit cards is a common element of their day-to-day money habits, while for others a few bad mistakes have resulted in a downward debt spiral. But what does the state of Australia's credit card debt actually look like?

Australian credit and debit card statistics

Comparing how we use credit cards and debit cards

Demographics

How many Australians own credit cards by age group?

girls taking a selfie

18-35 - 65.07%
    • 39.48% had one
  • 17.59% had two
  • 8.36% had three or more

man kissing wife on cheek

35-54 - 82.18%
  • 34.70% had one
  • 26.79% had two
  • 20.69% had three or more

old couple smiling while checking menu

55+ - 79.84%
  • 32.79% had one
  • 29.53% had two
  • 17.52% had three or more

How has the way Australians use credit cards changed in the last 10 years?

The table below depicts the average monthly figure in each case, and the number of accounts active at the end of each year.

Year Accounts Purchases Purchases Value Balances Accruing Interest Total Balances
1995 6,917,635 18,572,376 $1,716,478,250 - $5,902,531,500
1996 7,447,624 21,327,211 $2,006,558,167 - $6,970,112,000
1997 7,867,703 25,544,859 $2,480,210,750 - $7,933,909,917
1998 8,347,354 33,230,275 $3,289,235,796 - $9,301,922,198
1999 8,842,914 43,775,831 $4,427,400,750 - $11,188,984,583
2000 9,462,590 54,160,188 $5,704,497,083 - $13,825,125,833
2001 9,702,724 63,262,374 $6,926,303,489 - $16,562,522,490
2002 10,436,320 78,980,602 $9,722,033,157 $6,522,901,923 $21,632,476,879
2003 10,939,188 85,944,716 $10,870,024,403 $17,459,831,412 $24,460,963,830
2004 11,564,683 94,031,940 $12,235,065,131 $19,584,814,661 $27,691,093,053
2005 12,472,753 99,171,723 $13,172,441,716 $22,417,391,623 $31,464,241,650
2006 13,219,635 106,077,623 $14,488,224,374 $26,205,709,409 $36,343,226,964
2007 13,915,372 112,699,505 $16,020,173,355 $29,260,322,734 $40,602,096,354
2008 14,223,670 118,291,550 $17,271,752,680 $31,459,592,322 $43,674,616,532
2009 14,427,859 123,397,918 $17,860,701,479 $32,591,404,701 $44,934,444,304
2010 14,807,113 131,079,776 $19,030,143,061 $34,814,324,464 $47,666,028,188
2011 14,998,347 138,540,312 $19,959,970,338 $36,180,712,025 $49,155,184,501
2012 15,206,686 147,966,067 $20,897,695,673 $36,235,249,589 $49,765,586,487
2013 15,538,988 159,731,196 $21,873,628,623 $34,500,802,152 $49,546,355,130
2014 15,746,333 172,690,658 $23,151,764,523 $33,352,878,864 $50,101,907,023
2015 16,410,978 188,496,223 $24,333,715,319 $32,445,810,064 $50,992,893,578
2016 16,686,308 207,153,818 $25,232,641,843 $32,458,164,966 $51,764,294,059
Data source: finder.com.au, RBA.
Are you a journalist or researcher? If you need any further data or custom research, please contact...
Graham Cooke
Graham Cooke
Insights Manager
graham.cooke@finder.com.au@gcooke42/in/gcooke42unnamed (25)
P: +61 4 0180 2681
E: graham@finder.com
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19 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    ElliAugust 23, 2018

    Hi,

    I was wondering if you could please tell me 3 pros and 3 cons of owning a credit card.

    • finder Customer Care
      JeniAugust 23, 2018Staff

      Hi Elli,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      These are some of the pros of credit cards:

      1. Flexibility. Credit cards allow the customer to avoid having to carry large amounts of cash around. They are perfect for those occasions when an unexpected purchase becomes necessary, and sufficient cash is not available. They also allow for quick and simple phone and internet transactions.
      2. Safety. When cash is lost or stolen, there may be no way of recovering it. If your credit card is lost or stolen, the card will be replaced, and your maximum liability for fraudulent use is limited by law to $50. However, Visa, Mastercard and American Express all operate zero-liability policies so that the customer is not liable for even a single cent.
      3. Spending power. Credit limits on credit cards often mean that customers can purchase large goods straight away that they would normally have to save up for over many months.

      These are some of the cons of credit cards:

      1. Overspending. When talking about the pros and cons of credit cards, this is the classic downside. Some individuals can get easily carried away with their credit card, creating a debt that is beyond their means to pay off. Credit cards should not be seen as having access to “free money”. In fact, once the interest starts kicking in, you will end up paying more than the purchase price of your goods.
      2. Multitasking. A credit card should be used for just one task. If it has a good rate for purchases, then it should be reserved for that. If a balance transfer is made to a credit card, then it should be used for nothing else. Problems arise when customers think it’s okay to carry out both these transactions on their credit card simultaneously. This creates a conflict of interest – literally. The lower interest debt is always paid off first, which means the higher interest purchases will keep accruing interest untouched by your repayments.
      3. False sense of security. Covering everyday purchases on a credit card can lead customers to believe they have more cash available than they really do. Having cash in your pocket must be logically balanced by the level of your credit card debt. If your credit card debt is building, your ready cash should be set aside to cover it at the end of the month.

      These are the main pros and cons to be aware of with credit card ownership. Remember that owning a credit card means you are involved in a legally-binding contract, so you need to make sure you are playing a straight game.

      You may also want to read the benefits and disadvantages of having a credit card by checking out this page.

      I hope this helps.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  2. Default Gravatar
    CatherineJuly 24, 2018

    Hi – I’d like to know what amount the average Australian is paying off on their credit card each month. The monetary amount not the percentage. Is this something you have? Thank you

    • finder Customer Care
      JeniJuly 24, 2018Staff

      Hi Catherine,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      The level of credit card debt can go up or down depending on what the trend is on a monthly basis. As per this page, the average credit card purchase as of February this year is at $118.97.

      Information we have on this page is from the RBA. You may also want to read more about credit card debt on this page.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  3. Default Gravatar
    GrahamMay 24, 2017

    Can you advise what % of total Australian credit cards and the related purchase value is transacted with a MasterCard please and what % is spent on holidays and travel?

    • finder Customer Care
      RenchMay 26, 2017Staff

      Hi Graham,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately, we don’t have the information you are looking for. What we do have is the overall number of purchases using all types of Australian credit cards and debit cards as shown above this page.

      Kind regards,
      Rench

  4. Default Gravatar
    RolandNovember 16, 2016

    Hi,
    Great website!

    How many credit card transactions are done per year with no credit card present, ie. over the Internet, phone etc, people just entering in the numbers digitally?

    Thanks!
    Roland

    • finder Customer Care
      LouNovember 17, 2016Staff

      Hi Roland,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately, we don’t have the information you are looking for. What we do have is the overall (with and without card) average usage of each cardholder which is 13 per month and 159 per year.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

    • Default Gravatar
      DonaldMay 21, 2017

      The staff reply to Roland about the number of transactions per cardholder gives a figure of an average of 159 credit card transactions per year. That appears to correspond to the year 2016. And I think it only covers purchase transactions, excluding payment transactions. Where by payment transaction I mean the cardholder paying off some or all money owed on the card.
      What I notice is that back in 1995, twenty years ago, cardholders only appear to have been using credit cards about an average of 30 times per year, and by 2016 that figure of 30 has grown to 159.
      159 – 30 = 129. 129 is about 2½ purchases per week that are now charged through credit cards, but were not charged through credit cards twenty years ago.
      Over the same twenty year period, the number of cards on issue has grown from about 50% of the Australian adult population to about 100% of the Australian adult population (but with some having more than one card and others no credit card). Meanwhile bank profitabilities have generally quadrupled.
      Thanks. I think this corroborates the conception that wealth was being concentrated in fewer hands over the course of the twenty years.

  5. Default Gravatar
    SamOctober 18, 2016

    Hi there,
    I was wondering- do you have an stats for how many Australians are now choosing to pay by card? (debit, eftpos, credit, etc)

    • finder Customer Care
      MayNovember 3, 2016Staff

      Hi Sam,

      Thank you for your question.

      I’m afraid we do not have that information available. You may try checking with Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

      Cheers,
      May

  6. Default Gravatar
    September 15, 2016

    Hi, I was wondering how many new credit cards are approved each month? Or perhaps the average churn rate pa on Credit Cards.

    • finder Customer Care
      MaySeptember 15, 2016Staff

      Hi Luke,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      I’m afraid we do not have that information available, but you may try checking with Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

      Hope that helps.

      Cheers,
      May

  7. Default Gravatar
    HamishMay 18, 2015

    How many consumer credit card applications are made a year?

    • finder Customer Care
      JonathanMay 18, 2015Staff

      Hi Hamish, thanks for your inquiry!

      Please note that finder.com.au is a comparison service, it may be best to check with official statistical agencies such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics for this inquiry.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

  8. Default Gravatar
    GregMarch 20, 2015

    How much does the average australian spend, a month, on debit card transactions.
    I have found the statistics for credit card but not for debit card transactions.

    Thank you

    • finder Customer Care
      JonathanMarch 20, 2015Staff

      Hi Greg, thanks for your inquiry!

      Unfortunately the household debt report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) does not include the average amount for debit card transactions. It would be best to contact the ABS directly for more information/statistics on this measure.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

  9. Default Gravatar
    LeeMarch 25, 2013

    How many 18-25 year-old Australians have a credit card?

    • finder Customer Care
      JacobMarch 25, 2013Staff

      Hi Lee. Sorry, these statistics are not available to us. Try the Reserve Bank of Australia. They publish credit card and charge card statistics.
      Jacob.

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