Media Release

News update: Credit card reforms have had little impact on increasing credit limits

  • New insights reveal credit card reforms have had little impact since 2012
  • Total credit limit per card now over $9000 per card
  • Debts increasing despite legislation against unsolicited credit increase invitations

August 12, 2015, SYDNEY

Comments by Michelle Hutchison, Money Expert at Australia's biggest credit card comparison website

Key Points

  • The 2012 credit reform has had little impact on reducing credit limit growth as new research by Australia’s biggest credit card comparison website shows credit card limits are at a record high, following the latest credit card data released by the Reserve Bank of Australia today (August 12, 2015)
  • Total credit limit has hit almost $145.55 billion as at June 2015, which is $9048 per credit card (with over 16.09 million credit cards now in circulation)
  • Total credit limit has increased sharply since 1993 until the 2012 reforms came into effect – increasing from about $17 billion total (about $2,600 per card) in 1993 to almost $138.3 billion ($9,180 per card) in 2012

Credit card limits in Australia


  • When the credit reforms came about in 2012, it prevented credit card providers from offering customers credit limit increases unless customers provide consent. Total credit limits then dropped in the same year – by $4.6 billion from $138.3 billion in September 2012 to $133.7 billion October 2012
  • However, it has since been climbing and is now at a record high, of $145.55 billion ($9,048 per card), which shows that card providers have still been able to grow customers’ credit limits
  • Interestingly, it hasn’t encouraged cardholders into reaching greater credit card debt, as the proportion of credit limits used in total is down from 37.36% December 2012 to 35.36% June 2015. This means that while credit card limits have increased, cardholders have kept their balance at almost the same level since 2012 (currently sitting at $3,199 per card compared to $3,283 in December 2012)
  • This is despite total credit card balances hitting an all-time high of $51.47 billion in June 2015, an increase of $195.5 million since May 2015 and $1.3 billion more than June last year
  • We’re not surprised by card providers still trying to lure in cardholders to take on more debt as they are keen to maintain their profit margins when credit card spending is tighter
  • However, it’s great to see that Australians aren’t falling for credit card providers’ attempts to get them into more debt and they are being more responsible with their credit card use


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