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Costa Rica Credit Card Debt Grows 23%

The number of credit cards and debt grew in 2017 as compared to 2016, as did the interest rate average

The number of cards in circulation in the country grew by 9% between July 2016 and July this year, and the balance of debt increased by 23% in the same period.

That is the result of the latest quarterly study on credit and debit cards, carried out by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce (MEIC), through the Directorate of Economic and Market Research.

The MEIC said there are 2,528,051 credit cards of which 32% correspond to additional cards, which are assigned to persons authorized by the holder, for example, a relative or employee.

For its part, the study with a cut off period of July 31, indicates that the balance of total debt in credit cards reported by the issuing entities was ¢1,137,355,000,000 colones (1.14 trillion colones) – US$1.99 billion dollars – up 23% over the same period in 2016.

The debt represents 3.79% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

It should be noted that for the month of July, delinquency of debt payments from 1 to 90 days is 7.21%, while for those greater than 90 days the figure stands at 4.87%.

Interest rates on the debt (in Colones) ranges from 8% to a maximum of 50%, on average almost 40%, up from an average of 35% last year. The interests in dollar debt is between 10% and 37%, the average 28%.

With respect to debit cards, the MEIC an increase of 4% over last year in the number of cards in circulation, for a total of 5,894,037 and 350 types of bank accounts linked to debit cards.

See complete study by the MEIC (in Spanish).