Canadians still holding Holiday credit card debt

CreditCard

Still carrying credit card debt from the holidays? You are not the only one. According to BMO’s 2015 Credit Card Report released in February, 28 per cent of Canadian credit card holders entered the new year with an added credit card debt load that accumulated over the holidays, averaging $1,192.

That’s not all the survey found ­- 46 per cent of Canadian credit card holders are currently carrying credit card debt, and 30 per cent do not pay their credit card bill every month. The survey, conducted by Pollara, examined credit card usage and behaviour among Canadian card holders heading into 2015. Some interesting findings:

• Over half (52 per cent) pay for the majority of their purchases using a credit card

while one third (30 per cent) carry a monthly balance, 51 per cent pay off their entire credit card balance every month.

• One third (32 per cent) do not keep track of the balance on their card until they see the bill at the end of the month.

• One quarter (26 per cent) are often in a cycle of paying off their credit card with all available funds and incurring additional debt to pay for other expenses.

Nick Mastromarco, Managing Director, North American Retail Payments, BMO Bank of Montreal, offered his insight into the survey findings, “Credit cards are a popular payment tool for Canadians; however, unchecked spending habits can result in getting stuck in continuous monthly debt cycles that can hamper near and long term financial goals. Staying realistic about spending habits and bill payments is key to effective management of credit card spending.”

The poll also revealed one quarter of Canadians see their credit card as additional spending money, and this number rises to one third (33 per cent) for Millennials. Two of the top financial concerns for Canadians include sticking to their budgets (70 per cent) and spending more than they can afford on things they don’t really need (61 per cent).

“Utilizing a credit card as a payment tool as opposed to a borrowing tool is crucial to managing household finances and ensuring households are living within their means,” said Mastromarco. “Working with a financial planner to build a comprehensive budget that includes monthly spending habits and savings goals can help Canadians stay on the right track.”

Mr. Mastromarco added that leveraging a no-fee card, keeping manageable credit limits and tracking day-to-day purchases helps to quickly achieve debt repayment goals. Here are some other tips to manage credit card spending:

Build a realistic budget:

Developing a detailed budget that incorporates everyday expenses and debt repayment helps provide a clear picture of your financial standing. Building in funds for contingency spending can help you stick to a plan and avoid getting discouraged.

Track your spending regularly:

Create a budget, set savings goals, track spending and analyze cash flows and transactions.

Jennifer Birch – Realtor

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