HONG KONG, September 21, 2017 – A recent survey by TransUnion (NYSE: TRU) revealed most Hong Kongers act responsibly when it comes to credit card repayment habits, yet are still confused about credit basics.
The survey found Hong Kongers act responsibly when it comes to managing their credit cards and understand how those accounts affect their credit. In fact, more than two-thirds (67 percent) correctly reported that making just the minimum payment on a card can have a negative effect on credit. Likewise, 90 percent of credit card holders reported they always pay their balances in full and 88 percent of credit card holders repay their balance either before the due date but not immediately after a transaction is made or right on time.
“As Hong Kongers are using credit cards more frequently in everyday life, positive financial habits are extremely important,” said Lawrence Lo, Director, Consumer Interactive for TransUnion Hong Kong. “Credit cards have become an integral part of daily life in Hong Kong, so we are very pleased to see that in general, Hong Kongers are responsible in paying off their credit card balances.”
95 percent of adults own at least one card and a previous TransUnion study, released in May 2017, also found that consumers own 4.6 cards under their name on average.
Despite their commitment in paying off credit card balances, most Hong Kongers still neglect other important credit habits, such as monitoring their credit report for errors. According to the survey, more than 40 percent (43 percent) have never checked their credit report and 45 percent either believe their credit score “doesn’t really matter” or neutral.
Many still make poor decisions about when and when not to open new cards and are more easily swayed by financial rewards and other perks than crucial credit features.
When applying for a new credit card, respondents were asked to rank various factors based on their importance. The majority of adults (51 percent) ranked privileges and discounts as one of the top three most important factors, followed by spending rebates (47 percent) and welcome gifts (45 percent) in the same category. Meanwhile, a smaller portion of respondents ranked security features (39 percent), credit limit (22 percent) and interest rate (17 percent) as one of their top three most important factors for new applications.
The survey also revealed that Hong Kongers remain misinformed about a number of fundamental aspects of credit scoring, particularly on credit card usage behaviors.
“Despite from making some positive progress on credit awareness, Hong Kongers are still learning about the nuances of credit management,” said Mr. Lo. “As a leading global risk and information solutions provider, we are committed to helping them to establish sound financial management and achieve life goals with healthy credit habits and ongoing credit education.”
To help encourage credit literacy and combat confusion, TransUnion offers the facts behind the six most common credit myths in Hong Kong:
Myth #1: Paying bills immediately after a transaction can improve credit score.
A majority of adults believe that paying bills immediately after a transaction is made (65 percent) has a positive effect on credit scores.
While making a payment immediately certainly does not hurt the score, it also does not directly improve it. The best way to maintain credit health is to make repayments on time regularly.
Myth #2: Using a supplementary credit card will only affect the credit score of the supplementary card owner.
79 percent Hong Kongers think that a late payment of a supplementary card would hurt the credit score of the supplementary card holder.
In reality, a supplementary card is linked to the primary card holder and affects the primary card holder’s credit score. The supplementary card holder might have credit history related to the supplementary card.
Myth #3: ATM cards have an effect on your credit score.
One quarter of respondents thought using an ATM card instead of a credit card would have a positive effect on credit scores, while 7 percent thought this would have a negative effect.
While an ATM card can be a helpful tool to ensure you spend within your financial means, it does not demonstrate to lenders you can handle credit, and therefore does not count towards your credit score.
Myth #4: TransUnion determines the approval of your credit card application.
Over half (51 percent) of the survey respondents believe that TransUnion determines the approval of their credit card applications, especially among the older age group as nearly 60 percent (59 percent) of 55 and over agreeing with the statement.
Ultimately, creditors such as banks or credit card issuers determine the approval for a credit loan. TransUnion’s role is to provide creditors with information about applicants’ credit history so they can make better decisions by evaluating borrowers’ riskiness. When you apply for a line of credit or a loan, lenders will request information of your credit habits from TransUnion, which in turn determine your eligibility for a loan and on what terms.
Myth #5: Checking the interest rate of personal loans from different banks will not hurt your credit score.
Three-fifths (60 percent) of Hong Kongers do not think that checking the interest rate of personal loans from banks, even before taking out a loan, will affect their credit score. Banks may provide custom interest rate based on your credit history, after obtaining your credit history and making what is called a “hard inquiry” with the credit agency. This type of inquiry can stay on your credit report for up to two years. Conversely, consumers self-checking their report will not affect the score.
Myth #6: You can only access your credit report from TransUnion if you pay for it.
57 percent of survey respondents do not know that they are entitled to a free credit report from TransUnion if the banks reject their credit or loan applications. A free copy could be obtained online by following the instructions on the rejection letter.
You can learn more about how to maintain credit health by visiting transunion.hk.
About the Survey
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a YouGov Plc survey conducted on behalf of TransUnion. Total sample size was 1001 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25/07/2017 - 02/08/2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Hong Kong adults (aged 18+).
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For more information, please contact:
Weber Shandwick Hong Kong
Juliana Li / Winky Chow
2533 9973 / 2533 9923