Monday 19 February 2018

Thousands maxing out credit cards

David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland. Photo: Fennell Photography
David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland. Photo: Fennell Photography
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Thousands of consumers who have a credit card are exceeding their credit limits.

This means they are triggering interest rate charges of up to 22pc and "over-credit-limit" penalty payments.

The new figure came as card payments company Visa said next Wednesday is set to be the busiest shopping day for retailers. Some €150m is expected to be spent on Visa debit, credit and prepaid cards. This is 10pc higher than last year.

And retailers said they were expecting spending to be up this Christmas.

Retail Excellence Ireland's David Fitzsimons said trading remains mixed across retail sectors, especially in provincial Ireland, but he expects Christmas trade to be up between 3pc and 5pc on last year.

A new data set from the Central Bank shows that there are close to 1.5 million personal credit cards in active use, with almost 4 million debit cards actively use.

With a debit card, you can only spend money if you have it in your current account. Credit cards are a form of high-interest borrowing.

The figures show one 8.5pc of all credit card users smashed through their card limit in October.

A Central Bank spokesman said this works out at 51,000 credit card accounts, most of which are held by consumers.

Not clearing your card balance every month will mean interest charges as high as 22pc on the outstanding balance.

And exceeding the approved credit limit will mean charges of between €7 and €8.50, depending on the card provider.

A further 37pc of accounts had balances between 76pc and 100pc of the credit limit in October.

The Central Bank data shows consumers spent €850m on credit cards in October, and €3.7bn on debit cards.

Point-of-sale debit card spending has been more than two and a half times higher than credit card spending this year.

The monthly point-of-sale spend on debit cards has risen by €322m since January, and reached over €2.1bn in October.

A further €1.6bn of debit card spending in October was accounted for by ATM transactions.

The Government has been actively encouraging people to move away from cash to use electronic payments.

Earlier this month Finance Minister Michael Noonan called on shops to cut their prices after new lower fees for retailers when processing debit and credit cards come into effect.

In the Budget the Government imposed a 12c charge for ATM cash withdrawals, up to a limit of €5.

Visa said Wednesday is set to be a record day for card spending. It expects 2.6 million in-store transactions on the day as cardholders snap up the last of their Christmas shopping. Spending is expected to spike on the day between 1pm and 2pm.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Promoted Links

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business