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Credit card debts trap hooks post-80s crowd

Candy Chan

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Nearly three in every four members of the post-80s generation spend more than they earn and accumulate huge debts, a poll that looked into their credit card usage has revealed.

The survey found that one credit card holder took 17 years and five months to pay off a debt of HK$76,790.

The poll of 506 card holders, 269 aged between 23 and 32, was conducted by the Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong.

Program director Robert Chung Ting-yiu said nearly 75 percent of those surveyed keep spending despite mounting debts in order to maintain their lifestyles.

The average age of the post- 80s generation is 24, with the youngest at 18.

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On average, each person has 3.8 credit cards at any one time.

This age group mainly uses credit cards on buying the latest model smartphones and digital gadgets, dining in luxury restaurants and traveling.

Respondents who settle their monthly bills with a minimum payment or 5percent of the balance are dubbed "credit card revolvers."

Many quickly accumulate debts and then struggle to pay off the interest.

"Card holders should bear in mind the high interest rates charged by credit card companies," Chung said.

He added that since many companies target university students, secondary schools should incorporate personal finance skills into the liberal studies curriculum.

"Many debtors are living a screwed-up life and are working hard to settle their credit card debts. Some may take more than a decade after retirement to pay these debts," Chung said.

"Such spending also disrupts their plans of getting married, owning a home or pursuing further studies, as whatever they earn goes in paying their bills."

Prime Credit deputy head of marketing Emily Chow Mei-wah said many of the respondents pay the minimum amount to have more cash - and spend more than they earn.

Her company has set up a debt calculator to show defaulters how long it will take them to pay off their bills.

She said they should seek professional advice to come up with personalized repayment schemes.

Chow said a few youngsters are getting smart and consolidating their debt under lower interest rates, but others have still not taken the first step to recovery.

"Many of them were too young when they began spending to realize the kind of negative effect excessive credit card spending will have on their lives," Chow said.


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