Sunday, January 9, 2011


Apologies to the sensitive for the implied cussage in the title but seriously...WTF!?!?

I was reading one of my favorite websites, and came across this link

How different cultures handle credit cards

I can't get the table to copy over here because it is too big, BUT, I find it fascinating. Scroll to the bottom of the article to see it.

In the US we don't have the highest use of credit cards, but we're up there. The average American in 2010 put $4,236 on credit. Good lord! I put about 1500$ on credit cards between flights and hotels and gas (because I'm too lazy to run inside and pay ahead and then go back in and get my change) but I always pay it off before the end of the month. I can't remotely compete with that figure.

In China the average person put $297 on a credit card in 2010. That's for the whole year. Obviously that is skewed since many folks in China may not have access to credit cards.
France wins with only $267 on average per person on credit for the year! They DO have access to the same sorts of banking institutions that we do. In fact, many of the same banks. They seem to prefer debit and pay-pal for online purchasing and cash or debit for in person purchasing.

The line that column that caught my attention next was the number of credit cards in the US in 2010 there were 686 million credit cards. That's more than 1 for every man woman and child alive! Jesus. Assuming that toddlers don't have their own and fewer than half of middle schoolers have their own credit card...that's enormous. I know plenty of people here who don't have credit cards or even bank accounts. I think I have 2 or maybe 3 that would be counted. Both from banks where I have savings accounts. I used to have a citibank card but hated the service and fees and whatnot so quit using it and one day they sent me a letter saying "charge crap or shove off." Shortly after they sent a letter saying "sorry, don't shove off" but I never heard from them again. I suppose I should do another credit report on myself and see if that closed. If not, I'll close it. I know that will affect my credit score but credit scores are only important if you need credit. I don't. (Yes, they also check them for car insurance but I doubt the liability insurance on my 1 year old vehicle changes much based on one canceled credit card with a zero balance for the last decade.)

ANYWAY, back to the fascinating table of debt.

The final column is also intriguing.
In China, remember 297$/year on credit, they have a savings rate of 37.9%. Wow! I don't think I'm there yet. That rate is from 2007.
In the US our savings rate is....4.3%! What do you people think you're going to live on in your old age? The profits from selling that truck with the fancy rims you put on your credit card? That's AVERAGE which means lots of people save less.

On the upside, Japan only saves 2.3% of household income so we aren't the worst.

I would like to see the chart on average credit card and other unsecured debt in various countries. I'd also like to see the average amount, both in dollars and as a percentage of household income, each of these countries spends on debt service (interest, fees, etc). As both of my readers know, I don't like to pay those sorts of things.


Anonymous said...

Um, this column makes me very uncomfortable because I put EVERYTHING on my credit card. I only do so because I pay off the entire amount at the end of each month, and I get gift certificates from But as someone who has been in credit card debt TWICE and had to claw myself back out, I hear what you're saying.

Here's an address I use to check my credit reports once a year (you can do one check for free per year). Never have learned my credit score though. If you ever find a place where you can get your credit score for free without any catches, please let me know (that is BULLSHIT!)

I wonder who would "win" the credit score contest. You certainly won the AQ contest ;-)

Jill said...

Hey Ange, the address for the free credit report didn't come up.
Pam also tells me she puts everything on a credit card and pays it off. This was not something I was thinking of and would be clarified by that missing column...average credit card debt for each country.

Anonymous said...

Hey punkin, I was mostly kidding. Your column didn't make me uncomfortable - I always find them quite educational. One thing I really hate is when college students are targeted (all those "free credit card" offer cards put in students' bags from bookstores and the like). I think new college students don't always have enough savvy to monitor their finances. I read a story of a young woman who was almost $80K in debt when she graduated college and it was CREDIT CARDS, not even tuition.

Here is the address for the credit report place - sorry I dropped the ball on my first comment: