Australian Household Debt Statistics 2024

Are you looking for some debt statistics? You’ve come to the right place.
William Jolly  |  

Explore our comprehensive guide on household debt statistics in 2024, including home loans, credit cards, personal loans, and BNPL debt.

On this page:



Average Australian debt stats: at a glance

  • Australian household debt: $276,462*
  • Home loan debt: $293,705
  • Credit card debt: $3,344
  • Personal loan debt: $10,925
  • Car loan debt: $11,370
  • Student debt: $24,771
  • Buy now, pay later (BNPL) debt: $686
  • Average payday loan debt: $751

*Latest household debt statistics from 2021-2022.


What is household debt?

According to the OECD, household debt is “all liabilities of households that require payments of interest or principal to creditors at fixed dates in the future. A less mouthy definition would just be loans and consumer credit accounts you still owe, such as credit cards.

‘Good’ vs ‘bad’ debt

Not all debts are bad for you. Debts can be separated into ‘good’ and ‘bad categories.

Good debt is typically characterised by its potential to increase your net worth or generate long-term income, with common examples being mortgages to buy a house, student loans and investment loans.

Bad debt, on the other hand, typically involves borrowing to purchase depreciating assets or consumption items that lose value quickly and do not generate long-term income. Examples of bad debt usually include credit cards, car loans and payday loans.

Good debts can also become bad debts. If you end up in mortgage stress, for example, and pay upwards of 30% of your income just on your repayments, that good debt could soon become a bad debt. 

What types of debts do Australians have in 2024?

Debt is extremely common in Australia. As we’ll explain in greater detail further down, Australia has some of the highest levels of household debt in the world! 

According to NAB’s latest Australian Wellbeing Survey for Q4 2023, credit card debt is still the most widely held debt by Australians, with 38% having debt on at least one credit card. Home loan debt was next most common and held by 3 in 10 (29%) Australians overall; 22% carried BNPL debt, and around 17% owed money on a personal loan.

Types of debts held: December 2023

Type of debt

% of Australians

Credit card debt

38%

Home loan

29%

Buy now, pay later (BNPL)

22%

Personal loan

17%

Loan from family & friends

17%

Investment loan

8%

Payday loan

7%

Source: NAB Australian Wellbeing Survey Q4 2023.

Most common debts in Australia: men vs women

There isn’t too much of a gender divide in terms of who holds each type of debt. Men were slightly more likely than women (41% vs 35%) to hold credit card debt; more women (30%) had an active mortgage than men (28%); and women also held more BNPL debt compared to men (24% vs 20%).

Type of debt

% of Men

% of Women

Credit card debt

41%

35%

Home loan

28%

30%

Buy now, pay later (BNPL)

20%

24%

Personal loan

16%

18%

Loan from family & friends

15%

19%

Investment loan

8%

9%

Payday loan

7%

6%

Source: NAB Australian Wellbeing Survey Q4 2023.

Most common debts in Australia: By age

There are more pronounced differences in the types of debts held by different age groups. Unsurprisingly, the youngest age group (18-29-year-olds) are the least likely to have an active mortgage at just 21%. Even fewer 65+ Australians have a mortgage (11%), as they’re the most likely generation to have fully repaid their mortgages.

Type of debt

% of 18-29s

% of 30-49s

% of 50-64s

% of 65+

Credit card debt

23%

42%

43%

40%

Home loan

21%

43%

34%

11%

Buy now, pay later (BNPL)

27%

29%

19%

7%

Personal loan

25%

23%

14%

2%

Loan from family & friends

25%

23%

12%

4%

Investment loan

7%

12%

9%

3%

Payday loan

10%

10%

5%

1%

Source: NAB Australian Wellbeing Survey Q4 2023.

Most common debts in Australia: By income

Higher-income Australians—defined by NAB as earning $100,000 or more annually—have more ‘good debts’, with 47% having an active mortgage compared to just 11% for lower-income Australians. This makes sense when you consider the requirements banks have for servicing a mortgage when assessing an application, as well as the challenge of saving up for a deposit in the first place.

They also take out more investment loans (15% vs. 3%), and the only ‘bad debt’ they have more of is credit cards (42% vs. 28%).

Type of debt

Lower-income

Higher income

Credit card debt

28%

42%

Home loan

13%

47%

Buy now, pay later (BNPL)

23%

22%

Personal loan

13%

22%

Loan from family & friends

20%

17%

Investment loan

3%

15%

Payday loan

7%

7%

Source: NAB Australian Wellbeing Survey Q4 2023.

Australian Home Loan Debt Statistics

According to the most recent census data, roughly one-third (35%) of Australians have an active home loan, and given their size, these loans account for the majority of Australian household debt. In January 2024 alone, more than $25 billion worth of new housing loans were settled!

Average outstanding home loan balance

NAB's data shows the average home loan debt in Australia is $293,705, down from $299,000 the year before. 

The table below shows how the size of the average home loan debt varies between age, gender and income:

Demographic

Average outstanding home loan (Debt)

18-29

$301,201

30-49

$340,071

50-64

$264,247

65+

$135,506

Men

$277,351

Women

$310,754

Lower-income

$140,149

Higher-income

$335,865

Source: NAB Australian Wellbeing Survey Q4 2023.

Average home loan size

There’s a difference between the average home loan size and the balance owed. As you pay off a home loan over time, the outstanding balance decreases, and your equity grows. While the average outstanding home loan balance as of December 2023 may have been just under $300,000, the size of new home loans funded is much higher.

In December 2023, the average mortgage size in Australia rose 2.6% to a new record high of $624,000! The state with the highest home value in its capital - NSW - also has the highest average loan amount, with the typical borrower taking out a whopping $785,000.

The graph below shows the average mortgage size in each state as of January 2024:

What is the average home loan interest rate?

Home loan interest rates have increased significantly over the past several years in Australia, thanks to over a dozen cash rate increases by the Reserve Bank (RBA) since May 2022. In that time, the cash rate has gone from a record low of 0.10% to 4.35%, and interest rates on mortgages have followed suit.

As of January 2024, the average interest rate on outstanding owner-occupier home loans was 5.88% p.a. For new loans, the average interest rate was even higher at 6.27% p.a, while property investors paid even more (6.54% p.a).

As the graph below shows, the average owner-occupied interest rate before the cash rate began to rise in May 2022 was a mere 2.9% p.a.

RBA housing rates

Australian Credit Card Debt Statistics

As mentioned above, credit cards are the most popular type of debt in Australia, used by more than one-third of the country. However, they’re a lot less popular than they used to be.

The latest official credit card stats from the RBA show that 13.52 million active credit cards are currently in circulation. This is a noticeable 29% drop from September 2016, when the number of credit cards in circulation hit a record high of nearly 23 million. It’s also down 11% compared to the historical average of 18 million.

Comparatively, debit cards are much more popular, with nearly 47 million currently used as of January 2024.

Average outstanding credit card balance

According to the RBA’s data, the average balance on each active credit card is $2,978. Of that amount, just under half—$1,363—is accruing interest, aka debt.

NAB’s report shows similar numbers. Current balances on credit cards as of December 2023 were $3,344 on average. Average credit card balances were higher among men ($3,463) than women ($3,210), while higher-income earners were more likely to spend big on their credit cards compared to low-income earners:

Demographic

Average outstanding credit card balance

18-29

$2,941

30-49

$3,816

50-64

$4,054

65+

$2,422

Men

$3,463

Women

$3,210

Lower-income

$2,469

Higher-income

$4,152

Source: NAB Australian Wellbeing Survey Q4 2023.

What is Australia’s total combined credit card debt?

When you put all of that personal credit card debt together, the balance accruing interest across Australia totals more than $18.2 billion!! While that is a lot, it’s much, much less than pre-covid levels. Monthly credit card debt has fallen by about one-third (33.5%) from $27.9 billion in March 2020 and has halved since 2011 ($37 billion)!

What is the average credit card interest rate?

According to the RBA, interest rates on ‘standard’ and ‘low-rate’ credit cards are 20.07% p.a and 13.23% p.a, respectively, as of February 2024. Remember: credit card rates can vary significantly depending on a number of factors.

Australian Personal Loan Debt Statistics

Personal loans are on the rise in Australia. The latest ABS data for January 2024 found that the value of funded personal loans increased by nearly 14% over 12 months, with $2.46 billion loans settled in that month alone.

The total value of outstanding personal loans (that is, loans that still need to be repaid) spiked to an all-time high of $170.7 billion in July 2019.

Average outstanding personal loan balance

The average personal loan debt as of December 2023 was $10,925, down from nearly $12,000 in December the year before. Here’s the average personal loan debt broken down further by age, gender and income:

Demographic

Average outstanding personal loan balance

18-29

$9,538

30-49

$12,639

50-64

$9,479

65+

$11,383

Men

$10,233

Women

$11,525

Lower-income

$5,943

Higher-income

$14,298

Source: NAB Australian Wellbeing Survey Q4 2023.

Australian Payday Loan Debt Statistics

Payday loans are designed to provide temporary finance solutions over a shorter period and for smaller amounts, usually up to $2,000. While they aren’t allowed to charge interest, ASIC states that they commonly charge the following high fees:

  • Establishment fee: Maximum of 20% of the amount borrowed
  • Monthly fee: Maximum of 4% per month of the amount borrowed
  • Default fee: Charged for missed payments, varies between lenders. Fees cap out at double the original amount borrowed.

Average outstanding payday loan balance

The average payday loan debt as of December 2023 was $751, which is a lot given the extremely high charges these loans can come with. 

Payday loan debts by age & gender

Gen Zs (18 - 29) had the highest average payday loan debt at $997. Senior Australians over 65, on the other hand, owed just $250.

DemographicAverage payday loan debt
18-29$997
30-49$685
50-64$716
65+$250
Men$613
Women$1,029
Lower-income$413
Higher-income$678
Source: NAB Australian Wellbeing Survey Q4 2023.

Resources for debt & financial assistance

If you’re struggling with money or debts, you can call the free National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 (Monday – Friday). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can also contact the free Mob Strong Debt Helpline on 1800 808 488.

ASIC MoneySmart also recommends doing the following:


Australian BNPL Debt Statistics

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services allow you to delay the full payment of a purchase. However, unlike a credit card, each purchase will be split into four or more equal slices and repaid in instalments, often fortnightly. BNPL platforms like Afterpay or Zip also don’t tend to charge interest; instead, late payment fees for missed payments are charged, commonly around $7-$10 each time.

Mozo data shows that the average BNPL-utilising Aussie spends $2,208 annually, or $184 per month. But this isn’t considered debt if each instalment is repaid on time, which begs the question: how much BNPL debt does the average Aussie have?

Average outstanding BNPL balance

According to NAB’s report, the average outstanding BNPL debt as of December 2023 was $686. Twelve months prior, in December 2022, the average BNPL debt was $770—nearly $100 higher!

Average outstanding BNPL balance by age & gender

Women are more prominent users of BNPL platforms than men, and this is reflected in their average balances: women carry an average BNPL debt of $740, compared to $623 for men.

While Gen Z is the biggest user of BNPL platforms compared to older age groups, millennials (Gen Y) carry the highest BNPL debts, NAB’s report shows an average BNPL debt of $824 for 30-49-year-olds, compared to just $538 for 18-29-year-olds. 

Surprisingly, 50-64-year-olds owe more on their BNPL services than Gen Z ($687), while higher-income groups have a higher average debt ($749) than those on lower incomes ($681).

Average BNPL debts by demographic:

DemographicAverage outstanding balance (Debt)
18-29$538
30-49$824
50-64$687
65+$553
Men$623
Women$740
Lower-income$681
Higher-income$749
Source: NAB Australian Wellbeing Survey Q4 2023.

A December 2023 survey by Finder found that just under half (49.11%) of Aussies have never used a BNPL platform. Of those who have, Afterpay is the most popular, used by more than 37% of Australians.

How many Australians have used a buy now pay later service?

Platform% used at least once
None49.11%
Afterpay37.2%
PayPal Pay in 417.13%
Zip16.93%
Humm4.82%
Openpay (no longer available)4.23%
Klarna3.94%
Other2.66%
Bundll (owned by Humm)0.49%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1016 Australians, December 2023

Australia’s household debt vs other countries

How does Australia’s household debt compare globally?

Australia has some of the highest levels of household debt in the world. As of December 2022 (ABS), the average Australian household had a debt of $261,492, which is around $2.6 trillion (with a T) nationally. That’s an increase of 7.3% from the previous year.

According to the OECD, the average household debt is 211% (or 2.1x) of net disposable income. Essentially, we owe twice as much as we earn!

Compared to the other OECD countries (aka leading economies), Australia’s household debt ratio is the third highest in the world. Only Switzerland and Norway are ahead of us, at 222% and 247% respectively.

We are also level with The Netherlands at 211% and just ahead of Denmark (208%).

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Written by - William Jolly

Content Manager
William is the Content Manager at Jacaranda Finance. He has worked as both a journalist and a media advisor at some of Australia's biggest financial comparison sites such as Canstar, Compare the Market and Savings.com.au, and is passionate about helping Australians find the right money solution for them.

You can get in touch with William via williamj@jacarandafinance.com.au.
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