Ticos’ love affair with credit cards has reached $1.67 billion

Costa Ricans seem to be taking their cues from the central government, which has never met a loan it did not like.

The economics ministry said Tuesday that Costa Ricans owe 908 billion colons in credit card debt. That’s $1.67 billion. And there are more than 2 million credit cards in circulation.

The debt averaged out to $747.56 per credit card, and many residents have more than one plastic card. Maybe that is why 11 percent of the cardholders are behind in their payments 90 days or more.

Credit cards in circulation actually have decreased a bit more

than 1 percent from January to the end of April this year, said the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio. The ministry’s Dirección de Investigaciones Económicas y de Mercado has been following credit card debt for years.

Despite the slight decline in the first four months of the year, the number of credit cards has increased 14.6 percent from a year ago, the ministry said.

There is no surprise that the debt increased because 80 percent of the credit cards in circulation carry interest charges of from 40 to 50 percent, said the ministry. Dollar credit is lower at 30 to 38 percent.

Typically state bank cards carry the lowest interest.

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