Credit card take-up rate falls for first time in four years: CBS

Consumers here long used to signing up for new credit cards are finally resisting the urge to do so. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Consumers here long used to signing up for new credit cards are finally resisting the urge to do so. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Consumers here long used to signing up for new credit cards are finally resisting the urge to do so.

They shook off perks typically offered to new card customers, like shopping vouchers or fee waivers, as the number of consumers who acquired a credit card fell for the first time in four years last year.

Statistics released on Monday by the Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS) showed that 622,548 credit card holders obtained a new card in 2013, a drop of 5.5 per cent compared with the previous year.

The decline reversed a recent trend of positive growth since 2010.

The last time there was a fall in the number of new credit card sign-ups was in 2009, when 563,158 new cards were acquired, a 10.2 per cent decline from the previous year.

CBS executive director William Lim said: "The findings reflect both a saturated market and trend of consumers making use of their existing cards instead of acquiring new cards."

Reflecting the decline in new the take-up rate of new cards, the number of new entrants to the credit card market also fell by 10.1 per cent to 98,220. It was also the first fall in four years.

The average number of credit card banking relationships, or the number of banks with which consumers have a credit card account, stayed at 3.1, unchanged from the previous year.

But the amount of debt that people are charging to their credit cards increased.

The average monthly balance per consumer on all his credit cards rose by 4.2 per cent to $5,304. The average balance includes the amount spent, financial charges and amount rolled over.

The percentage of consumers who missed at least one payment on their credit card accounts rose to 14.6 per cent, up from 13.5 per cent in the previous year.

Some 1.44 million consumers had credit card accounts at the end of last year.