Media Release

Why 1.56 million Australians keep their credit cards a secret

  • 1 in 5 credit card holders have a secret credit card or lie about their purchases
  • Gen Y under the most pressure to keep up with spending
  • NSW cardholders most out of control spenders
  • Wakeup call to cardholders: review your budgets and consolidate debts to get in control!

March 25, 2014, Sydney – A new investigation by Australia’s biggest credit card comparison website has found one in five (20 percent) credit card holders admit to owning a secret credit card or lying about their purchases – potentially 1.56 million Australians.

According to the study, one in seven (14 percent) respondents said their spending has led to an argument

Those who spend more on their cards (more than $5,000) and make more impulsive purchases were the worst offenders:

  • They were more likely to have arguments about their spending
  • And more likely to hide their credit cards and purchases from loved ones

The survey of 1,545 Australian credit card holders was commissioned by and conducted by leading global research provider pureprofile.

Michelle Hutchison, Money Expert at, said she was surprised by the number of Australians using their credit cards in secret.

“Credit card use is out of control in Australia, with over $49 billion of national debt accumulated on plastic according to the Reserve Bank.

“The credit card holders who are the worst offenders are the most out of control with their spending because they have the biggest debts and make more impulsive purchases.

“Credit cards are not supposed to be used as a way of hiding purchases and if you’re doing this, it’s probably because you know you shouldn’t be buying the items at all.”

Men vs women

Surprisingly, about the same number of men hide their purchases from their partner as women (one in five). However, slightly more women (15 percent of women compared with 13 percent of men) admitted their spending caused arguments.

“There’s a common misconception that women have worse spending habits than men but our survey proves that the same number of men are just as likely to hide their purchases or keep a secret credit card from their partners as women,” said Mrs Hutchison.


Comparing generations, the study found that Gen Y (18-34 year-olds) were the most deceiving, with over one in four (27 percent) hide their credit card purchases from their partners or loved ones while the older generations are much more honest about their spending.

The youngest generation of adults, Gen Y, is also more likely to have arguments about their spending than any other group.

The older generations were the most trusting, with the majority (85 percent) of cardholders aged 55-plus said they don’t ever hide purchases. They were also less likely to argue about their credit card spending, with only 5 percent admitting their spending caused disputes.

“Gen Y is the most reckless group of spenders because we found they generally make more unplanned purchases than any other age group. They are under the most pressure in society because many would compare themselves to the older generations and want what they have but generally have less money to afford it,” said Mrs Hutchison.

“This is why the survey shows so many Gen Ys struggle with their credit cards, by keeping secret cards or lying about their purchases and they are more likely to cause arguments.”

State by state

Cardholders in New South Wales were the most out of control with their cards, with one in four (25 percent) spending at least $2,000 on their cards every month. They were also the most deceptive according to the survey, as they are more likely to have a secret credit card or lie about their spending than cardholders in other states.

About 22 percent of cardholders in NSW have a secret card or lie about their spending and more cardholders in NSW are likely to have arguments with their loved ones about their spending than any other state – 16 percent admit that their credit card spending leads to arguments.

Tasmanian cardholders are the most trusting, they are the least likely (less than 16 percent) to have a secret credit card or lie about their spending. They are also the least likely to fight over their credit card use.

Queenslanders are the second-most deceptive when it comes to their credit card use, with just over 20 percent admitting to owning a secret credit card or lying about their purchases and the third-biggest group to admit their spending causes arguments.

Victorians followed with 18 percent of cardholders lied about their spending or owned a secret credit card and were the second-biggest group to fight with their loved ones about their spending.

South Australians followed with just under 18 percent of cardholders admitted deception when it comes to their credit card use and were the second-lowest group (behind Tasmania) to cause arguments over their spending.

Mrs Hutchison said that cardholders should use this as a wakeup call to get their finances under control.

“There’s no reason to hide your credit card spending. If you can’t be honest about your spending you should consider reviewing your budget and asking your partner for help.

“You shouldn’t be ashamed about spending your own money, as long as you’re not spending more than you earn, otherwise your financial situation will quickly grow out of control.

“Cardholders should use this as a wakeup call and review their budgets, find out how much debt they have and make a plan to reduce their debts by consolidating and comparing balance transfer credit cards. For instance, there are over 50 credit cards on offering no interest for balance transfers for up to 24 months so it’s worth comparing deals to save on interest and get out of the debt rut.”


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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's review pages for the current correct values.

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