SINGAPORE CREDIT CARD DEBT – ARE YOU FINDING IT HARD?
According to a recent Straits Times report, more people in Singapore are finding it difficult to pay their credit card debts. Pointing to figures released by the Credit Bureau of Singapore, as well as falling behind on payments, customers are now owing more amid calls for tougher laws on credit debt.
The Straits Times says that as of July, there were 62,830 unsecured credit customers who had not made a minimum payment in two months, a rise of 12.7 per cent compared to this time last year.
While on the face of it these figures may seem alarming, you have to put them into perspective: The official population of the Republic of Singapore is in the region of 5.3 million people, so these numbers represent just 0.01 per cent of all people living on the island. It’s unfortunate that there are significant number of people who experience credit card debt, but for the vast majority, cards represent an acceptable and useful way of dealing with your money.
Keeping on top of your credit card balance is relatively easy if you follow a few simple rules. The problem lies when you break these rules and let your debts mount.
Firstly, and most importantly, don’t let that debt build up in the first place. Never spend more than you can afford to pay off in the next month. If you reach a point where you’ve got balance left on your card, don’t use it again until the debt is cleared.
The best tip is to not think of your card’s credit limit as “free money”. In finance, nothing comes for free. If you need to you that credit limit, ensure that it is only for the direst of emergencies, and ensure you’re paying it off as soon as possible.
Second, don’t try to transfer the debt elsewhere. Debt is debt, and if you’re tempted to move your debt to a new card or another bank account, you’re only going to be tempted to let it build up further. You might even find yourself falling for unexpected fees. Take it from us – if credit card debt gets on top of you, contact your bank, and they’ll help you with an affordable plan.
Yes, we accept debt is a problem for a minority of people. But used correctly and responsibly, you should be able to have a debt-free life with a credit card along with all the benefits that go with them.
Try MoneySENSE is a national financial education programme launched by Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, then Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the MAS on 16 October 2003. MoneySENSE brings together industry and public sector initiatives to enhance the basic financial literacy of consumers.
The MoneySENSE programme covers 3 tiers of financial literacy:
- Tier I – Basic Money Management – which covers skills in budgeting and saving, and provides tips on the responsible use of credit;
- Tier II – Financial Planning – to equip Singaporeans with the skills and knowledge to plan for their long-term financial needs; and
- Tier III – Investment Know-How – which imparts knowledge about the different investment products and skills for investing.
Article by Jason Taylor – [email protected]