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RBA figures show fall in average credit card balance

RBA figures show fall in average credit card balance

Credit card balances and usage continues to fall as consumers remain savvy about their use of plastic, latest figures from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) suggest.

The average credit card balance fell by $77.10 (2.4%) to $3,114.30 in January, according to the latest data. 

Averaged over 12 months, this balance was down by 1.5% - the largest fall in 21 months. And with the inflation rate currently above 2%, it would suggest credit card debt is falling even further in real terms.

Usage of credit card limits also eased, from 35.2% in December to 34.3% in January – a 14-year low.

The average credit limit is now $9,075.90, according to the RBA data. 

"Consumers continue to be savvy about plastic card use," said Savanth Sebastian, CommSec economist.

"Cardholders are frequently paying off credit card debt by the due date and using cards to maximise loyalty points."

On average there were 11.3 transactions made per credit card account in January, up from 11.1 a year ago, while the average value of purchases was $119.4.

With respect to debit cards, an average of 8.8 transactions were made per debit card in January, up from 8.1 a year ago. The average value of a transaction was $52.02, with the rolling annual average at a 12-year low of $53.40.

"No doubt the changes [in] technology with PayPass and Paywave are resulting in fewer Aussies carrying physical cash and also using their cards for smaller purchases," Sebastian said.

The Reserve Bank releases data on credit and debit card transactions each month which are analysed by economists in the context of highlighting consumer borrowing and spending trends. 

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice.