Media Release

Christmas debt hangover expected to hit $30 billion

    • Australians face up to $1,863 each in holiday debt
    • 27% of Aussies will still be paying off Christmas credit card bill in 12 months
    • Pay off Christmas debt with a balance transfer card

8 January, 2019, Sydney, Australia – Australians have been left with a financial hangover from Christmas and it's expected to near $30 billion for the first time, according to new research by finder.com.au, the site that compares virtually everything.

A new forecast of Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) data analysed by finder.com.au reveals the nation likely borrowed $29.7 billion on credit cards in December 2018 which is equivalent to $1,863 in purchases per card.

If spending follows this pattern, it will be the highest December spend on record – up from $27.9 billion in 2017, and under $25 billion five years ago.

Based on how long Aussies said they would take to pay off their credit card debt in 2018, and taking into account an average 55-day interest-free period, it's expected the interest alone from Christmas shopping will cost Aussies $237 million.

Graham Cooke, Insights Manager at finder.com.au, says for many households it could take months to pay down the credit card debt accumulated over the Christmas period.

"If the Christmas spirit is measured by consumer spending, we were all feeling very festive.

"Aussies spend more on credit cards in December than in any month.

"This over-reliance on credit cards in December means the cost of Christmas is carried well into the new year and could take a toll on household budgets throughout 2019," he said.

He urged Australians to take action as quickly a possible and to consider a balance transfer to minimise interest charges.

"A balance transfer could give credit card holders the chance to make more headway on their outstanding balance, especially if they're having difficulty making repayments.

"There are currently over one hundred balance transfer cards offering zero per cent introductory rates on transfers, and most banks offer a product with this feature. The interest free period varies, but more than half of the balance transfer cards on the market will give you a whole year or more interest free if you transfer your balance.

"But remember – this is not a licence to ignore your debt. Often, zero per cent balance transfer cards will have a higher purchase rate than other cards, so it's important that you commit to paying off all your debt in the interest-free period, and resist the urge to spend beyond your means," Cooke said.

According to the finder.com.au database, there are currently more than 100 credit cards offering 0% interest on balance transfer deals, including the Bankwest Breeze Classic Mastercard which has the longest (26 months) interest-free period.

Despite there being more cards on the market than ever, the average balance actually accruing interest per card has fallen from $2,470 in 2012 to $1,984 towards the end of 2018, which suggests Aussies are becoming better at paying off their plastic bill.

Top 0% balance transfer cards available on finder.com.au:

  

CardBalance transfer offerPurchase rateAnnual feeAmount saved
Westpac Low Rate Card0% p.a. For 24 months with 1% balance transfer fee13.49% p.a.$0 p.a. Annual fee for the first year ($59 p.a. thereafter)$1,602.89 over 24 months
Bankwest Breeze Classic Mastercard0% p.a. For 26 months with 2% balance transfer fee0% p.a. for 6 months (reverts to 12.99% p.a.)$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($79 p.a. thereafter)$1572.37 over 26 months
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Platinum0% p.a. For 26 months with 2% balance transfer fee12.74% p.a.$0 p.a. Annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a.thereafter)$1,523.37 over 26 months

Source: finder.com.au balance transfers comparison table, amount saved based on $5,000 balance at a current 20.00% p.a. interest rate

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Disclaimer

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.

About us

More than 3 million Australians turn to finder.com.au every month to save money, time and make important life choices. We compare virtually everything from credit cards, phone plans, health insurance, travel deals and much more.

Our free service is 100% independently-owned by two Australians: Fred Schebesta and Frank Restuccia. Since launching in 2006, we’ve helped our users make more than 17 million decisions.

We continue to expand and launch around the globe, and now operate in the United States and United Kingdom. For further information visit www.finder.com.au.

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