Aussies broke credit card spending records in November 2021, but what does that for you mean now?

woman sits at her laptop worried about her christmas covid finances

The lead up to Christmas 2021 saw a record-breaking $69 billion card spend, but with the recent Omicron outbreak, can Australians afford to pay it back?

Let’s take a closer look at our spending first: as COVID-19 lockdowns lifted in October, Aussies hit the shops and jumped on sales events such as Black Friday and Click Frenzy in November. Then, as families were finally able to celebrate together, a lot of Australians spent more on Christmas 2021 than in previous years.

According to recent RBA data, Australians charged $25.7 billion to their credit cards in November 2021, the highest value since the beginning of the record 20 years ago. Interestingly though, the number of credit cards is the lowest since 2006, meaning that the individual spend per card would also be record-breakingly high.

November 2021 credit card spend

November 2021Month-on-month changeYear-on-year change
Number of credit card accounts12.4 million-731
(-0.01%)
-449,616
(-3.5%)
Value of credit card purchases$25.27 billion+$4.78 billion
(+23.3%)
+$2.90 billion
(+12.9%)
Value of credit card transactions$25.70 billion+$4.86 billion
(+23.3%)
$2.92 billion
(+12.8%)
Credit Card balances accruing interest$17.16 billion+$74.8 million
(+0.4%)
-$2.48 billion
(-12.6%)

Shoppers also spent plenty on their debit cards this festive season. Debit transactions hit a record high of $43.01 billion, meaning there was close to $69 billion charged to all personal cards in Australia in November 2021 alone.

November 2021 debit card spend

November 2021Month-on-month changeYear-on-year change
Number of debit card accounts36.3 million+144,746
(+0.4%)
+1.4 million
(+4.0%)
Value of debit card purchases$42.21 billion+$4.87 billion
(+13.1%)
+$6.32 billion
(+17.6%)
Value of debit card transactions$43.01 billion+$4.98 billion
(+13.1%)
+$6.34 billion
(+17.3%)

Australia spent big but now there’s credit card interest to pay

Embracing Christmas without pandemic restrictions, many Australians put aside the thrifty attitude of lockdown and splashed out on their credit and debit cards. Unfortunately, some might now struggle to pay down their debts due to Omicron’s intrusion.

For one, many Australians are not currently working as they expected to. Across a lot of the country, the most recent COVID outbreak has forced people to take sick leave, lose work hours to isolate and even caused some businesses to shutter temporarily.

For the first time since May 2021, credit card balances accruing interest has increased by almost $75 million month-on-month. This could be a concern, as from December, personal finances might have tightened.

Help with debt is available

If you are struggling to pay off your Christmas debt, you might want to consider a balance transfer. A balance transfer offers you the opportunity to transfer your current credit card debt over to a new card and pay it off at a lower interest rate or completely interest-free.

Remember, these are limited-time offers. While some only last for a few months, others can be a few years, it all depends on what suits you and your debt.

Additionally, there are many resources to take advantage of. Reach out to your providers, as well as the Nation Debt Helpline, for guidance on how to resolve your situation.

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