Click Frenzy Spending Spree: Aussies spent $58 billion on credit and debit cards in November


Australians went on a spending spree the month before Christmas, making purchases worth $58.31 billion according to the latest credit and debit card statistics released by the RBA

In a month full of sales events, including Click Frenzy, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, credit card spending rose by 12 per cent from the previous month and 1 per cent from the previous year (excluding commercial credit cards).

Debit cards got an even bigger workout as people moved to online shopping, with a 6 per cent increase month-on-month and a 21 per cent increase year-on-year.

Unsurprisingly, cash took a step back with ATM withdrawals dropping 4 per cent month-on-month and down 18 per cent year-on-year.

November spending on credit and debit cards – value of purchases

(original data, excluding commercial credit cards)

Value of purchasesNov-2020Monthly change

(Oct vs Nov 2020)

Annual change

(Nov 2019 vs Nov 2020)

Credit cards$22.37 billion$2.42 billion
$159 million
Debit Cards$35.95 billion$1.94 billion


$6.27 billion


Source: RBA, released 12 January 2021, original data, excludes commercial cards.

Summary of Reserve Bank Credit Card stats for November 2020:

  • Australians added $241.7 million to personal credit card debt incurring interest in November with the total balances accruing interest now sitting at $19.96 billion. At the same time businesses saw a $15.5 million reduction in credit card debt accruing interest with the total now $859.3 million.

  • Since January, personal credit card debt accruing interest has come down by $7.44 billion while businesses have reduced credit card debt accruing interest by $417.2

  • The value of personal credit card cash advances has increased month on month by 1.36%, sitting at $392.3 million for personal credit cards in November and the number of cash advances increased by 1.24% to 1.13 million.

  • The number of transactions on personal credit cards increased month on month by 4.33%, to 245 million in November up from 234.9 million in October, and value of transactions increased by 8.52% to $22.18 billion in November up from $20.44 billion in October. Businesses saw the number of transactions increase by 5.32% month on month to reach 12.4 million in November, at the same time the value of transactions increased by 3.62% to $4.87 billion.

  • There were 51,332 fewer personal credit card accounts in November than the month prior and 920,579 less than in January 2020. For businesses, the number of credit card accounts dropped by 1,085 from the month prior and 50,327 since January 2020.

Credit card statistics: monthly and year-on-year changes

Nov-2020Monthly change

(Oct vs Nov 2020)

Annual change

(Nov 2019 vs Nov 2020)

No. of accounts12,857,899

Lowest since Oct 2007

Balances accruing interest$19.96 billion$242 million
-$7.25 billion

Source: RBA, released 12 January 2021, original data, excludes commercial cards. research director, Sally Tindall, said:

“Australians went on a pre-Christmas shopping spree in November, spurred on by the Click Frenzy, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

“With the economy bouncing back from a recession, and every state out of lockdown, Australians felt comfortable enough to splash some cash,” she said.

“While this bump in spending is great for retailers, credit card holders should not get complacent, with debt accruing interest rising for first time in almost two years.

“In the last year, households have smashed credit card debt, wiping off $7.25 billion. You’d hate to see all that good work come undone.

“Anyone who hasn’t yet cleared their debts from the sales in late November will need to act quickly.

“Do everything you can to clear your debt in full. That way you’ll avoid paying interest and keep hold of your interest free days,”

Canstar’s finance expert, Steve Mickenbecker commented:

“COVID-19 plagued 2020 has been a period for tightening up the household finances for many Australians, with $7.44 billion cut off personal credit card debt,” comments Canstar’s finance expert, Steve Mickenbecker.

Opportunities to spend have contracted as a result of the lockdowns and a part of the $36 billion early release of superannuation has found its way into credit cards, extinguishing stubborn debt.

The modest November increase in debt should not surprise, leading into Christmas and coming off a bumper Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We may have expected a bigger increase. The bigger picture remains one of restraint, hopefully a trend that is sustained

The Reserve Banks’ November data may give banks a glimmer of hope that the credit card business is on the way back, but nobody wants to see a return to the time when stubborn debt and impulse spending inflicted long term damage to customers.

Unfortunately the story of credit card debt is a two sided coin, one of shrinking debt and the other of debt increasing for anyone that has been hurt financially by the fallout of COVID-19. Canstar’s 2020 Consumer Pulse Report shows that 28% of Australians have personal debt outside of a home loan, with an average of $12,075 of this debt accumulated in 2020.”

ATM withdrawals

Nov 2020Monthly change

(Oct vs Nov 2020)

Annual change

(Nov 2019 vs Nov 2020)

Value of ATM cash withdrawals$8.56 billion-$397 million
-$1.92 billion
No of ATM cash withdrawals33 million-1.07 million
-12 million


Note: RBA ATM data, original, released 12 January 2021



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Kate Forbes is a National Director Property Strategy at Metropole. She has 15 years of investment experience in financial markets in two continents, is qualified in multiple disciplines and is also a chartered financial analyst (CFA).
Visit Metropole Melbourne

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