BMO Financial Group
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BMO Financial Group
BMO Bank of Montreal

BMO Bank of Montreal

February 10, 2015 10:30 ET

BMO Poll: Nearly Half of Canadian Credit Card Holders Currently Hold Credit Card Debt

- Balancing Act: 30 per cent of card holders don't pay their bill every month

- Holiday Hangover? Average of $1192 accumulated in holiday spending credit card debt

- BMO encourages Canadians to use a credit card as a payment tool as opposed to a borrowing tool

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 10, 2015) - According to BMO's 2015 Credit Card Report released today, 46 per cent of Canadian credit card holders are currently carrying credit card debt, and 30 per cent of card holders do not pay their credit card bill every month. Furthermore, nearly one third (28 per cent) have entered the new year with an added credit card debt load that accumulated over the holidays, averaging $1,192.

The survey, conducted by Pollara, examined credit card usage and behaviour among Canadian card holders heading into 2015. It found:

  • 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

"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," said Nick Mastromarco, Managing Director, North American Retail Payments, BMO Bank of Montreal. "Staying realistic about spending habits and bill payments is key to effective management of credit card spending."

Credit Card Debt by Region
National ATL QC ON MB/SK AB BC
46% 52% 37% 52% 45% 43% 46%

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 Mr. 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.

BMO offers the following tips to help Canadians keep credit card spending in check:

Leverage rewards to offset costs: Redeem reward currency to offset costs and save on everyday merchandise. BMO AIR MILES MasterCard has no annual fee and customers can earn 1 AIR MILES reward mile for every $20 spent.

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: The BMO Banking & InvestorLine App for iPad provides customers with the ability to create budgets, set savings goals, track spending and analyze cash flows and transactions.

The survey results cited in the Credit Card Study conducted by Pollara are compiled from a random sample of 1200 Canadians 18 years of age and over, of whom 1077 had at least one credit Card. The study between January 12th and 15th, 2015. A probability sample of 1,077 would yield results accurate to ± 3.0 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Results have been weighted using the latest census data to be representative of Canadians as a whole.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services organization based in North America. The bank offers a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers. BMO Financial Group had total assets of $589 billion and more than 46,000 employees at October 31, 2014.

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