Sobering advice after festive season spending

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

Banks say too many South Africans are not paying their debts, and advise consumers to at least pay a minimum of what they owe to save on interest charges.

First National Bank credit card chief executive, Jacques Celliers, said banks were worried about a trend of defaulting on payments by customers.

Celliers said a 5percent payment of overall debt made a difference.

He said: "Unpaid minimum balances result in a snowball effect with the customer owing more the next month and becoming more overwhelmed in the long run.

"Letting a credit card go unpaid also affects the credit worthiness of the customer, making it more difficult for them to get a retail credit card or other loans in the short term."

Celliers added that consumers should take the first step of informing their bank of any problems with payments so that their payments could be adjusted.

Sizwe Nxedlana, an economist at Standard Bank, said: "What would be prudent now for consumers would be to avoid incurring any more debt and focus on reducing debt exposure.

"People must also try to avoid using their credit cards to buy luxury goods."

Dawie Roodt, chief economist at Efficient Group, said in light of high interest rates and household debt consumers must "budget, save and don't borrow".