Hey, Buddy! Can you spare 594.2 billion colons?

Is it possible that personal finances in Costa Rica mirror that of the central government? Is it possible that Costa Ricans owe $1.2 billion on their credit cards.

That is the report from the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio. The ministry said Monday that as of Jan. 31, the total debt on credit cards in the country was 594.2 billion colons. That is $1.2 billion at the current rate of exchange.

The Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos said Monday that it estimated the country’s population at
4,301,712 persons. That means a credit card debt of $276 for every man, woman and child.

And, said the ministry, the number of credit cards is growing, up 2.4 percent from the last time the ministry did a study. There are 1.5 million credit cards in circulation.

There also is about 4.1 percent of the credit card debt in arrears by at least 90 days, according to the study. That is down slightly from the previous year.

The study does not count the many credit cards held by expats that are issued by foreign banks and credit firms.

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