Charge cards are slightly different from credit cards in that they generally have more lax credit limits with the balance usually required to be paid off in-full every month.
In October, credit and charge card total spend in original terms was up over $25.7 billion - an increase from $24.6 billion in September.
However, balances accruing interest, or debt, continued to decline from $18.46 billion in September down to $17.84 billion in October.
Meanwhile, the combined market share of American Express and Diners Card, in spend value terms, has recovered significantly, rising to 18.2% - the highest since June 2017.
That's up from 14.9% in January 2021. Meanwhile, Visa and Mastercard's share has sunk to 81.8%.
According to payments expert and former Diners Club executive Grant Halverson (pictured below), this represents a resurgence in charge cards.
"Charge card average spend is $41,077 per card [annually] - that will make BNPL's [buy now pay later] eyes water," Mr Halverson said.
"Charge cards are the adults' BNPL."
RBA data does not discriminate between American Express charge cards and credit cards, however Amex financial reports end-2020 show around two thirds of its cards are of the charge variety - both consumer and corporate.
Mr Halverson said the resurgence in charge card spend is reflective of a "change in consumer sentiment, and building a brand around free credit."
"This cuts across BNPL's 14 day loan," he said.
Mr Halverson is referencing the fact that many BNPL platforms require the first payment a fortnight after purchase.
The criticism for BNPL is thick, with the sector making up less than 2% of all retail payments, for an average spend of $1,230 among customers.
Credit losses per customer, according to Mr Halverson, amount to $3.78 for credit cards, and $39.50 for BNPL.
This comes after Financial Counselling Australia opined that BNPL debts are "worse than ever", with calls for the short-term credit platform to be regulated like other credit.
Head of McLean Roche, and former Citi and Diners Club executive, Grant Halverson. Image supplied.
Charge card resurgence not public service-led
Diners Club's largest client is the Commonwealth Government, which provides many employees with charge card services.
In Australia the charge card sector is dominated by two competitors - American Express and Diners Club.
American Express is leading the charge, according to Mr Halverson.
"I think Amex has made a comeback based on its brand and the move by many consumers to non-debt products, for example debit and BNPL," Mr Halverson told Savings.com.au.
"Diners has declined badly in 2020 according to their accounts - down 52% - which is mostly public servants, so they are not spending on T&E [travel and expenses]."
It's expected the Citi-run Diners Club will transfer to NAB ownership once the major bank's Citi acquisition finishes early in 2022.
"Does Diners have a shot? If NAB rebuild the Diners brand then the two competing brands will bring life back into the category," Mr Halverson said.
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