Monday 23 October 2017

At €2.5bn we still can't clear our credit card debt

Getty Images
Getty Images

Aideen Sheehan Consumer Correspondent

THE average consumer still owes €1,274 on their credit card, with little sign that they are getting on top of their debt.

The National Consumer Agency (NCA) has urged people to try to pay off card debt which can be a burden for years because of high interest rates.

The latest Central Bank figures show people have only reduced their credit-card debt by €41 per card in the last year.

But with interest rates on credit-card debt as high as 22.7pc, wiping out this debt could take you up to three years if you only pay €50 a month.

The worst rates at present are 22.7pc with AIB Mastercard and AIB Visa Card, and 22.6pc with Ulster Bank Classic MasterCard, according to a survey using the NCA's online comparison tool.

The best rates are 13.6pc with AIB Click Visa Card, 13.8pc with Bank of Ireland Clear Credit Card and 14.4pc with National Irish Bank MasterCard Platinum.

Those lower interest rates mean you'd take five months less to pay off the average debt of €1,274 than you would on the highest-interest cards -- meaning you'd spend up to €250 less wiping out your debt.

The lowest interest-rates cards don't offer introductory lower interest rates to tempt new customers in.

However, all the cards with higher interest rates have lower introductory rates for balance transfers -- which can be as little as zero per cent for 10 months before shooting back up again.

The NCA said that customers who switched to avail of these rates should plan to pay off the balance within the low-interest period.

NCA Chief Executive Ann Fitzgerald said that the latest figures showed that credit-card debt remained "stubbornly high".

While consumers were right to prioritise mortgage, electricity and gas bills, anyone who could should try to clear their credit card debt as quickly as possible and avoid making just the minimum repayment, she said.

Expensive

"Credit-card debt is one of the most expensive forms of debt, which continually clocks up interest if you don't pay your balance in full," she said.

People could dramatically reduce the time it took to repay credit card debt if they upped repayments from €50 to €100 a month, the NCA said as they launched a "ditch your credit card debt" online guide at www.nca.ie.

Central Bank figures show that people in Ireland now owe €2.5bn on personal credit cards.

If you want to switch credit card to avail of better interest rates, the company will look at your credit history, employment status, income and level of debt.

Irish Independent

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