Are jingle bells still ringing from your credit card bill?
- Many Australian credit card holders will still be paying for their Christmas splurges in 2015
- Never been a better time to balance transfer: record spend + most competitive market
- creditcardfinder.com.au lists top ways to pay down your debt
February 27, 2014, Sydney – Many credit card holders are starting 2014 on the wrong foot,following a new survey by Australia’s biggest credit card comparison website creditcardfinder.com.au1, which found half of those who used their cards for Christmas shopping are still paying for it.
The Christmas Debt Survey, commissioned by creditcardfinder.com.au and conducted by global
research provider Pureprofile of more than 1,000 Australians, found the majority (64 percent) of cardholders surveyed said they used their cards for Christmas shopping, and the majority of
which will take longer than a month to pay off their debt.
In fact, over one in 10 (11 percent) will take between three and six months or up to July before their Christmas debt is paid off. Over 5 percent will take between six and 12 months and 4 percent will still be paying off their 2013 Christmas shopping debt in 2015.
Michelle Hutchison, Money Expert at creditcardfinder.com.au, said many Australians were facing post-Christmas debt well after the festive season.
“There are over 15 million credit card accounts open in Australia according to the Reserve Bank, and almost 5 million are still waiting to be paid off from Christmas shopping.
“The most disturbing part of our survey was about 2 percent of these credit card holders who used their cards for Christmas shopping don’t think they will ever pay off their debts – that’s almost 100,000 card holders. There were also 7 percent, or potentially over 349,000 cardholders, who are planning to make minimum repayments to pay it off.
That means for the average credit card debt accruing interest of $2,222 at the average rate of 17.87 percent, it would take over 20 years to pay off and cost $6,433 in interest.
“Christmas time is clearly a necessary expense for most Australians but it’s important for
cardholders to do everything they can to pay off their cards as soon as possible,” she said.
More than half of the respondents (56 percent) put at least half of their Christmas purchases on their credit cards, including 29 percent who used their cards for all of their Christmas shopping.
About 57 percent spent over $500 on their cards for Christmas, including one in four (25 percent) spent over $1,000 and 7 percent spent more than $3,000.
While most (77 percent) of these cardholders used one card on their Christmas shopping,
almost a quarter (23 percent) used two or more credit cards during the silly season.
More than half of these card holders were on or below their budgets, however, there were many who spent more than they expected.
- 16% went over their budgets by up to 20%
- 5% went over by 2050%
- 2% went over by more than 50%
- One in five didn’t prepare a budget at all!
Mrs Hutchison said that now is the best time of year to compare balance transfer credit cards because of the opportunity to save the most.
“The start of the year is always the hardest time to pay down credit card debt as most
cardholders are faced with their biggest credit card bill after their Christmas splurges.
“For instance, we spent a combined $25.7 billion on plastic in December alone, according to the Reserve Bank – the largest amount ever spent in the one month on record!
“Cardholders can not only benefit by taking out a balance transfer credit card now while they have their biggest credit card debt of the year, but we’ve never seen so much competition for balance transfer offers.
“There are more than 50 balance transfer offers at 0 percent for up to 24 months on
creditcardfinder.com.au. Two years ago we saw only one provider, ANZ, offering no interest
balance transfer for 12 months – the longest term for 0 percent.
“Balance transfers can help give you some breathing space to pay off your postChristmas
splurge without paying any interest. But it’s important to compare deals and check for annual
fees and revert rates before signing up.”
Mrs Hutchison’s top tips on paying down credit card debt:
- Pay more than the minimum each month – If you add an extra $100 to your credit card bill that can make a big difference to your repayments. For instance, if you had a $1000 debt at a rate of 17.87 percent and you paid a minimum of 2 percent ($20) it will take you seven years and nine months to pay off and $845 interest. Paying $120 per month will
pay off your debt in nine months and cost you $59 interest.
- Consider doing a balance transfer – If you transfer your debt to a 0 percent card for 12 months you won’t have to pay any interest for the whole year, allowing you to pay down your debt interestfree. Watch out for annual fees, which could outweigh the interest saved.
- Set up automatic payments – If you set a certain amount of money to automatically
transfer to your credit card every month, this will help you budget while paying down your
More findings from the survey
Men Vs Women:
- Men were more generous this giving season compared to women, with over a quarter (28%) spending in excess of $1,000 over Christmas. That compares to less than one in four (23%) women who spent that same amount.
- The majority (81%) of women used a single credit card for their Christmas shopping
while men tended to juggle, with three in 10 (29%) using two or more credit cards.
- Despite spending more, men were just as organised with their money as women –
over half of both genders (59% of men and 57% of women) were either on or under
budget with their holiday spend.
- Men are more likely than women to up their repayments or do a 0% balance transfer to
pay down their card faster. This is while 45% more women will opt for spending less
on outings and shopping.
- Gen X spent the most this Christmas, with 30% having spent over $1,000. That’s
followed by Gen Y (24%) and then baby boomers (20%)
- Baby Boomers were the most prolific credit card users with over a third (34%) putting
all their holiday shopping on their plastic.
- Gen X were the least reliant on their credit cards, with two in five (40%) putting less
than 50% of their Christmas shopping on credit.
- 30% of Gen Ys surveyed went over budget
- Gen Y is the worst group with paying off their Christmas shopping debt, over twice as
likely as Gen X and almost five times as likely as Baby Boomers to keep on paying
their minimum credit card repayments each month.
For further information
The information in this release is accurate as of the date published, but rates, fees and other product features may have changed. Please see updated product information on finder.com.au's review pages for the current correct values.
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