Australians addicted to credit cards

Australians owe a record $49.4 billion on credit cards with households maxing their plastic to cover escalating living costs.

New Reserve Bank of Australia statistics shows total credit card balances have blown out by almost 45 per cent in the past five years to $49.4 billion in May, with $37 billion of this racking up interest.

The number of credit and charge card accounts is about to top 15 million, an increase of almost 20 per cent in the past five years with an average debt of $3322 a card.

However, the typical family credit card debt is likely to be much higher, with many households juggling repayments on two or more cards.

The massive mountain of debt will continue to escalate indefinitely with many lenders charging interest rates on credit card accounts four times higher than the official RBA cash rate of 4.75 per cent.

More than two-thirds of consumers’ outstanding debt is accruing interest at the average rate of nearly 20 per cent – a 20-year high.

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