24 Nov 2017

Plastic fantastic getting more traffic

9:06 am on 24 November 2017

Credit card spending has grown by more than 30 percent in the past five years but a leading economist says New Zealanders have got better at paying off their cards.

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Photo: 123RF

As the Christmas spending season approaches, the annual spike in credit card spending is anticipated again.

Westpac's chief economist Dominick Stephens told Nine to Noon that since the global financial crisis of 2008 people are more focused on clearing their credit card debt.

But high household debt to income ratio was more of a problem, he said.

New Zealanders spent more when house values were high and a significant rise in interest rates could leave households - and the overall economy - vulnerable, Mr Stephens said.

"You might get some people in negative equity and the like, but the more systemic concern [is] ... that source of spending growth will disappear," he said.

"The tide will go out and we'll see who's been swimming naked - some people might find themselves exposed."

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