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Credit Card Usage Reaches All Time High

27 January 2005

Credit Card Usage Reaches All Time High

New Zealanders love affair with credit cards has reached an all time high according to figures released today. Monthly and annual expenditure has risen to levels not seen before, as has the amount of money owed to their credit cards. December was the first time New Zealanders owed more than a net $4 billion on their credit cards as spending outpaced repayments.

$ millions 2002 2003 2004 December Spending $1,835.3 $2,073.6 $2,189.9 Annual Spending $17,785.6 $19,339.0 $21,555.4 Net outstanding balance at year end $3,658.0 $3,861.0 $4,114.2 Interest charged to November $446.0 $485.4 $493.7

December Billings Total billings on credit cards rose to $2.19 billion in December alone, up from $2.07b (6%) in 2003 and a 19% leap from the $1.835 billion recorded in December 2002. December’s billing represented a 25% increase from the average of the other eleven months in 2004. The average monthly spend of Jan-Nov in 2004 was $1.76 billion.

Rewards earned in December 2004 CardWatch has calculated that during December 2004 expenditure on credit cards would have earned the equivalent of: • 14.6 million Air NZ air dollars using GlobalPlus; or • 73,000 trans Tasman flights; and/or • 77,000 toasters using FlyBuys

Annual Expenditure Annual expenditure in 2004 was recorded at $21.56 billion, up 11.5% from 2003 ($19.34b) and a considerable 21.2% from 2002 ($17.79 billion). With recent reports from retailers expressing a softening in retail sales throughout December, increases in credit card expenditure suggest that New Zealanders are opting for credit cards as their preferred form of payment. This is a continuation of a long term trend of increasing use of electronic forms of payment.

Outstanding Balances At the end of December 2004, New Zealanders owed a net $4.11 billion, the first time this figure had broken above $4 billion. This was up 6.6% from Dec 2003 ($3.86 billion) and 12.5% from 2002 ($3.69 billion).

The latest interest-bearing balances, or generally those balances that are older than 55 days and are attracting interest, rose by 3.9% to $2.69 billion from $2.57 billion in 2003. Interest paid by New Zealanders therefore was a massive $493.7 million for the 12 months, though just a 1.7% increase from $485.4. This was despite a constant average interest rate charged of 18.8%.


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