Trinidadians have been swiping their credit cards more than ever.

In fact, according to the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago’s (CBTT) 2016 Annual Economic Survey, credit cards balances were at an all-time high when compared to the take-up of consumer loans last year.

According to the report released less than a week ago, credit card balances grew more than triple-fold last year.

At the same time. mortgages had dropped. Real estate mortgage loans decelerated to 4.4 per cent at the close of 2016 compared with 8.9 per cent in 2015, the CBTT said.

So too did car loans, as revealed in the report.

“Within the consumer credit sector, the demand for loans to purchase motor vehicles – particularly new vehicles – eased notably,” the CBTT survey said.

“This aligns with distribution sector data which show sales of new motor vehicles dropped by 13.7 per cent.”

The Central Bank explained that lower vehicle purchases might have been influenced by the implementation of increased taxes on vehicles with engine sizes exceeding 1999cc that came into effect in May, 2016.
Just last week, the increasing use of credit cards was confirmed by one local bank.

During his address at the launch of the bank’s new platinum credit card service, Managing Director of RBC Royal Bank, Darryl White estimated that credit card usage went up about ten per cent.

The CBTT’s survey, which covers the broader financial system, reported a rise in credit card balances from 3.9 per cent in 2015 to 13.7 per cent in 2016.

“Growth in consumer credit gradually softened over the year, increasing by 6.6 per cent in December 2016, compared with growth of 8.7 per cent in December 2015,” the report added.

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