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Aussies’ credit card debt on the rise again

JOB VACANCIES
There are 12.68 million personal credit card accounts active at the end of March.Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

The total household credit card debt attracting interest charges has risen for the fourth month in a row, with Aussies owing almost $18bn in debt.

The latest RBA credit card statistics for March revealed the total credit card bill attracting interest on personal credit cards was now $17.66bn.

The latest data shows credit card amounts have increased almost $49m from the previous month of February, and have seen an increase of almost $375m since November 2023.

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There are 12.68 million personal credit card accounts active at the end of March. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Mariuz

RateCity.com.au analysis of RBA data shows this is the first time debt has risen in the month of March since 2015, which is a drastic change for what usually is a calmer month of spending post-Christmas.

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“For eight years we’ve seen credit card debt decline in the month of March, but not this time around,” RateCity.com.au research director Sally Tindall said.

“We’re very used to seeing households pile up the debt over summer, but the fact that many are still struggling to reduce this debt in March is cause for alarm.

“A recent RateCity.com.au survey found almost one in seven credit card users were relying on their card to get them through to payday – a strategy that’s destined to fail, and quickly.

RateCity research director Sally Tindall says credit card debt is rising once again. Picture: Supplied
RateCity research director Sally Tindall says credit card debt is rising once again. Picture: Supplied

“Plugging a budget black hole with the plastic can put you on a debt treadmill that’s difficult to get off.

“If you are struggling with credit card debt, don’t put your head in the sand.

“Take the time to come up with an action plan that sees you clear the slate clean entirely,” she said.

The number of credit card accounts rose for the 18th consecutive month, with 12.68 million personal credit card accounts active at the end of March.

Almost 300,000 more credit card counts are active compared to May 2022, but are down considerably from the peak of credit card accounts in June 2017 when there were 15.45 million active credit card accounts.

On Tuesday, the RBA confirmed it would hold interest rates at 4.35 per cent.