These days, Thai people go more cashless. It is easy to see. Almost everyone around us have “plastic cards”, whether credit or debit cards, and some carries more than three. That is because we are familiar with credit or debit card spending.
BOT (Bank of Thailand) data revealed that there were 20.13 million credit cards from year 2010 to 2016. That means the number of credit cards in Thailand increased 40 percent within seven years. Out of totally 80 million plastic cards in Thailand, credit cards represent 25%, which is second to debit cards only, and the number is increasingly growing.
Now, let’s see most Thai people use credit card to spend on what.
Five years ago, BOT summarized Thai people’s credit card spending behavior. Most of them mainly used credit card to buy products and services in the country. In terms of online shopping, most credit cards were used to buy products abroad. However, overseas purchase had less value than domestic purchase. This reflected the fact that Thai people were not so confident to shop online with credit cards.
Today, several commercial banks collected the data on credit card utilization by income segmentation, high-income earner (100,000 baht per month on average), upper-middle-income earner (35,000 - 100,000 baht per month on average), and lower-middle-income earner (15,000 - 35,000 baht per month on average). Each segment had different shopping behavior.
For daily spending, young generation earning middle to high income preferred spending via credit cards, which gave them special experiences such as booking air tickets, reserving local and international accommodation, dining out, and shopping for consumer products, IT gadgets, and brand name items.
In terms of tourism, middle-income earners paid 10 percent higher each year for travel agents in online channel and tourism centers. They also bought air tickets 15 percent more often. When we look deeply, the spending value per time was 10 percent lower because more Thai people preferred buying package tours or searching for special promotions.
On the contrary, high-income earners did not travel more often but the spending value per time increased. For instance, they stayed in the hotels that were 6 percent more expensive. This reflected that they turn their trip into more luxurious and original experience. The spending in restaurants also grew in the same pattern.
Moreover, Thai people felt more confident to shop online. The shopping value grew by 28 percent for each segment. The survey findings of Electronic Transactions Development Agency (Public Organization) (ETDA) revealed that online market expanded almost four times in the past two years. Currently (2015 – 2016), the market was worth over four hundred thousand baht and the most popular items people shop online was electronic and IT products. The value per online shopping rose 24 percent a year and tended to increasingly grow.
However, with a credit card in hand and each swipe, make sure that you have enough money for repayment. That is because the interest rate of credit card debt is pretty high. Always remember that the interest rate is charged from the first day you swipe the card. If you have discipline, are careful not to overspend, and pay the debt on time and at full amount, the credit cards will not be a bad guy here. You do not have to pay a single cent for the interest. Sometimes, the credit cards can even help you shop at a cheaper price than cash payment.
With sensible spending under the budget, the credit cards will not cause you any burden. On the contrary, they will definitely make your present and future life easier.