Budget 2017 and the new changes coming to credit cards

Written by 
Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
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, updated on November 25th, 2021       

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The Federal Budget for 2017-18 was unveiled in Canberra on May 9. Though nothing seismic will shift the industry, the Federal Government has hinted that it will get tough on improper practices in the credit card market with new, tougher regulations.

According to reports in the media, Australians have been “ripped off” to the tune of $3.49 billion since 2011. This is largely due to credit card companies refusing to pass on Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Cash Rate cuts to credit card holders. In a News.com.au report, the average credit card interest rate has only dropped slightly from 17.41 to 17.35%.

In May 2011, the RBA Cash rate stood at 4.75%. It is now at a historically low 1.50%.

Speaking to the ABC Online, University of Canberra lecturer and former financial counsellor Gregory Mowle said that most of the people he interviewed for a Ph.D. thesis on personal bankruptcy blamed credit cards on their financial woes. Some credit card companies ignore the ASIC responsible lending guidelines and approve cards to those who cannot afford it. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the combined credit limit of all Australians was $134.8 billion in 2011. It is now $150.3 billion.

In a 2015 Senate Inquiry into credit cards, prominent financial commentators Paul Clitheroe, David Koch and Ross Greenwood gave evidence to support the assertion that irresponsible lending is to blame.

One such irresponsible lending practice is to give new homeowners “compulsory” credit cards with high credit limits. Others may approve credit cards for pensioners and welfare recipients.

NSW Labor Senator Sam Dastayari suggested that banks and credit card companies needed to show customers more proactive support such as contacting customers when their balance transfer periods are due to expire, or if they've only been paying the minimum repayment each statement period.

Though, one could argue that with the wealth of information about minimum repayments, including credit card calculators one can access via smartphones, people only have themselves to blame.

Even so, the 2016 budget set up a new Australian Financial Complaints Authority to oversee dispute resolution for bank, super and financial services customers. Cardholders can use this service to get free advice and seek compensation for unfair treatment.

The top five credit card providers based on market share

Competition in credit cards is heating up. With a raft of new of regulations tabled in the recent Federal Budget, consumers are on the lookout for better deals. So what are the top five credit card providers based on market share? We’ve crunched the numbers, and the results are surprising. Commonwealth Bank leads the pack with a whopping $11.566 Billion (27% in total!) in credit card lending, with ANZ a distant second at a shade under $8 billion. Citi and HSBC also make the list, depriving the fourth big bank (Westpac) of a top spot. Total lending tops $43 billion – that’s $1,808 for every man, woman, and child in Australia!

We sourced this information from the latest public Australian Prudential Regulation Authority banking statistics (March 2017.)

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