In New Zealand, numbers from the country's Reserve Bank show total credit card balances neared $6 billion in December - a record high and a sign people are returning to poor credit card habits not seen since before the global financial crisis.

Of the $5.46 billion in credit card debt on personal cards in November, 66.9 percent was charged interest at an average of 17.6 percent - up from 65.9 percent in November 2012.

"People seem to be falling back into bad habits of increasing their mortgage and adding to credit card debt," said Shamubeel Eaqub, principle economist at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research Inc.

Eaqub said some of the increase could be linked to a growing population but the key concern is how much of the borrowing involves interest-bearing debts. During the recession, interest-bearing debt had stopped going up but it had started to increase again over the past year.

Combining business and personal credit cards, the total outstanding advances for December reached $5.99 billion, up from $5.76 billion in the same month the previous year.

Economists in the country believe people might be spending more because they're feeling more confident about their jobs and incomes. They also might be being forced into additional spending with living expenses rises without an income increase.

Eaqub added there is a "real concern" about people returning to bad spending debt habits.

In November, the Reserve Bank noted its concerns about household debt continuing to grow faster than income.

"The household debt-to-disposable income ratio is once again approaching its historic highs. Interest servicing costs are at their lowest level in about 11 years, reflecting mortgage interest rates which, until recently, have been at 50-year lows.

"However, with fixed mortgage rates already starting to increase, and interest rate increases projected to occur in 2014, debt servicing costs can be expected to increase. Borrowers with high debt-to-income ratios could find themselves increasingly stretched to meet their debt commitments."
 

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