A CONSUMER RESPONSE TO “THE CREDIT CARD REPORT:
CREDIT CARD SPENDING IN PERSPECTIVE”
In November 2002, Visa International released “The Credit Card Report: Credit card
spending in perspective”. According to Visa, the report “has been prepared … to
facilitate objective discussion of credit card use in Australia”.1
The conclusions of the report were widely reported in the media, and the overall
picture presented was a rosy one of responsible credit use and responsible lending
However, consumer groups have serious concerns about the validity of this report and
the conclusions drawn from the data presented. To us, it is clear that the report was
written with political ends in mind.
In particular, there appears to have been little effort made to collect or report anything
other than information that supports Visa’s commercial interests. Most of the
conclusions drawn in the report are unsupported, including the main themes or
conclusions on p. 3, i.e. that:
• There is not excessive spending on credit cards by Australians.
• Consumer credit card limits are not set at inappropriate levels or
• Consumers are not carrying excessive levels of debt and are better off today than
5 years ago.
• Low-income earners as a group are not susceptible to financial trouble due to
credit card debt.
These conclusions also are inconsistent with the casework experiences of consumer
In addition, there is a glaring hole in the report’s failure to examine in any detail the
group of cardholders for whom credit card debt is more likely to be problematic –
those consumers who pay interest every month; and particularly those consumers in
this group who are on low-incomes.
This paper explains the concerns of consumer groups in more detail, and suggests
ways in which a more accurate picture of consumer credit card debt and its impacts
could be obtained.