TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct 31, 2012) - One bright light that shines through all the current discussions about consumer and household debt is the relative health of student credit card balances and their own confidence about their ability to manage credit card debt responsibly. In fact, when asked in a recent BMO survey, the majority of students said they didn''t expect to have any credit card debt by the time they graduate.
According to the annual BMO Student Survey, only six per cent of post-secondary students use their credit card to pay for school expenses. Among the six per cent, only three-in-10 expect to graduate with more than $1,000 in credit card debt, and only one-in-10 say it will take more than a year to pay it off once they graduate.
"Despite the obvious stresses on students struggling to pay for their post-secondary education, it is impressive to see how well they understand and manage their credit cards," said Su McVey, VP, BMO Bank of Montreal. "Students are doing their homework when they use credit cards. They clearly understand the wisdom behind treating them as payment vehicles - not borrowing instruments."
"Fifty-nine per cent of students say they can just cover, or have trouble covering, their bills," said Ms. McVey. "With average annual costs of $14,500 a year for school, we certainly understand the temptation to ''charge now and worry later.'' But they are demonstrating a good deal of financial responsibility and restraint with their credit cards."
The BMO Student Survey also showed that more students are using student discount programs and loyalty reward programs.
"There was a nine per cent increase in the number of students using discount and rewards programs this year (56 per cent vs. 47 per cent in 2011); the most popular among them is the Student Price Card (SPC Card) program," said Ms. McVey.
SPC Card benefits are included with BMO''s no-fee SPC MasterCard, and provide discounts of 10 to 15 per cent at hundreds of fashion, food and lifestyle retailers across Canada. Plus BMO customers receive an additional perk of exclusive merchant offers throughout the year.
"While there''s been a healthy increase in the number of students taking advantage of cost-saving programs such as those offered by SPC Card, we''d like to see even more students use discounts and their credit card rewards programs on planned purchases to help lower their every day expenses even further," added Ms. McVey.
About 65 per cent of Canadian post-secondary students use credit cards regularly, making an average of 12 credit card transactions per month. A student who spends $200 a month in credit card purchases at retailers participating in the SPC Card program, and pays off their balance in full each month, could earn rewards and discounts worth $380 per year.
Student Debt Snapshot
The Canadian Federation of Students notes that average student debt is almost $27,000. According to the Canada Student Loan Program, most students take nearly 10 years to pay off their loans - with some taking the maximum 14.5 years.
Making Money Make Sense to Students
The BMO Student Budget Calculator is a free tool available on bmo.com that allows students to create a budget.
BMO offers a no-fee BMO SPC MasterCard that includes free SPC Card benefits and a choice of CashBack or AIR MILES® reward miles.
BMO also offers a free* banking option to students, including complimentary SPC Card benefits, and is the only bank to extend this offer to recent graduates for an extra year.
A BMO Student Line of Credit, which charges interest only on what is actually borrowed, allows students to use as little or as much as needed up to their approved credit limit. In addition, students can make interest-only payments while in school and up to one year after graduation.
The Pollara online survey was completed between July 19 and July 26, 2012, with a sample of 1018 post-secondary students. A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to ± 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
* Applies to the Kids, Teens and Students Discount Programs in the Plus Plan when a Primary Chequing or Premium Rate Savings account is opened. Recent post-secondary school graduates are eligible for one year of free banking under the Student Discount Program. Customer is responsible for all the fees of any transactions, services and products not included in the Everyday Banking Plan.
About BMO Financial Group
Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $542 billion as at July 31, 2012, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.