ILCU survey on credit card spending finds consumers still lack understanding

A national survey carried out by the ILCU on credit card spending finds consumers still lack understanding of how credit card interest is calculated and that there has been no improvement in consumer awareness of interest rates or spending habits when compared to previous ILCU surveys conducted in 2020 and 2019.*

The main results from the survey are:

  • Over half of Irish consumers own a credit card
  • 65% don’t know what interest rate they pay
  • 62% are convinced that the general public lacks an understanding of how credit card interest works
  • 57% believe people in Ireland are now more dependent on credit cards due to the COVID pandemic

Interest rates

When asked about their awareness of the interest rate paid on their credit card balance, 65% of respondents said that they did not know what interest rate they paid, an increase of 7% on the 2020 survey results.

Of those who responded that they are familiar with the credit card interest rate they pay, 26% think they pay between 11% and 17%, while 38% think they pay 18% to 24%. One fifth of these respondents believe they pay less than 5% in interest with over half believing they are paying less than 10%. Overall, the survey highlighted a significant lack of understanding on how interest is applied. Interest rates on credit cards typically range from 13% to 26%.**

36% of respondents incorrectly stated that they “don’t pay any interest” if they cover the minimum balance due at the end of each month, with 31% correctly stating they knew that they paid interest on the full balance as well as interest on the outstanding balance from the date of the transaction.

Spending habits

Just over half of the Irish population own a credit card with 56% of these reporting they use it to buy ad hoc purchases each month. 14% said they have made a New Year’s resolution to throw the card away while 10% said they would use it to fund a planned holiday. 68% of credit card holders plan to use their monthly income to clear their balance fully every month, while 15% said they would use their monthly income to make the monthly minimum repayment.

Relationships with credit cards

Over two thirds of the population (67%) believe credit card companies in Ireland don’t do enough to explain how interest rates work, while 62% say that the general public lacks an understanding of how credit card interest works.

  • 61% of adults agree that people in Ireland rely too much on credit cards for making purchases.
  • 57% of respondents believe people in Ireland are now more dependent on credit cards due to the COVID pandemic.
  • 22% feeling that users spend less on their credit cards than before the pandemic.

Commenting on the findings, ILCU Head of Communications, Paul Bailey said:

This survey highlights that consumer awareness around credit card interest and how that interest is applied is still worryingly poor. With over half of consumers owning credit cards, it is concerning that there has been a decrease in peoples’ awareness of the interest rate paid on credit cards since our last survey in 2020.

With over two thirds of respondents believing that credit card companies aren’t doing enough to clearly explain credit card terms and conditions to consumers, this is worrying given the high usage and over reliance on credit cards among the Irish population.

I would encourage the public to arm themselves with as much information as possible when it comes to financial products and services to make sure they are making the right financial decisions to suit their individual circumstances. At the credit union, we aim to provide members with the necessary financial education to support them in managing their financial wellbeing.

An excellent resource for consumers to understand how credit cards work is the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission website which offers very helpful and explanatory information on financial products.

If you are concerned about your credit card debt, take a look at our debt consolidation loan.

*The national study was commissioned by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), and carried out by independent research company, iReach Insights, in December 2021. 1,000 adults responded to the online survey

**Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Member Notice: Kilfinane Office: Reduced Hours

Due to ongoing essential office maintenance, our Kilfinane office will be operating at reduced hours until further notice.

Kilfinane Office Opening Hours

  • Thursday: 2.00pm – 5.30pm
  • Friday: 10.00am – 2.00pm

Our Kilmallock & Charleville offices are operating as normal. Our services are also available by phone and online through our online banking & mobile app.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Shop Local Christmas Competition

As part of our “Supporting Local Business” campaign, we have put together 3 luxury hampers packed with products from local businesses.

To be in with a chance to WIN one of these hampers, just fill in the form below. Best of luck!

    First 4 fields are required.

    Prizes Include

    • Voucher from Love Lees
    • Voucher from Supervalu, Charleville
    • Voucher from Ryan’s Supervalu, Kilmallock
    • Selection of Effin Cheese
    • Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms Risotto Meal Kit
    • and much more

    Terms & Conditions: You do not need to be a member of Kilmallock Credit Union to enter. Your details will only be held until this competition ends. Your details will only be used in relation to this competition. Competition ends 21.12.21. The decision of Kilmallock Credit Union is final.

    Tuesday 7th Dec.: Charleville Office Closed

    Due to the status red weather alert, our Charleville office is closed today Tuesday 7th December, to ensure the safety of members and staff.

    Our Kilmallock office is open as normal today.

    We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

    You don’t have to go out in this weather to avail of our services.

    • Online: CLICK HERE to register for our free Online Banking.
    • Mobile App: CLICK HERE to download our free mobile app.
    • Phone: call 063 98355

    Credit Union Art Competition 2021 Results

    7 & Under General Category

    • Cathal Browne, Bruree NS
    • Agatha Uri Riberiro Silva, Bruree NS
    • Reon Jiss, Bruree NS

    7 & Additional Needs Category

    • Mr. Murphy’s Class, Scoil Mocheallog
    • Jamie Maher, Bruree NS
    • PJ Carey, Bruree NS

    8-10 General Category

    • Grainne Cotter, Bruree NS
    • Caoimhe Gleeson, Scoil Fhionain
    • Rafal Kwidzinski, Scoil Fhionain

    8-10 Additional Needs Category

    • Roisin O’Brien, Bruree NS
    • Cian Kelleher, Scoil Mocheallog
    • Lexi Maher, Bruree NS

    11-13 General Category

    • Adam Noonan, Hazelwood College
    • Allie Sexton, Hazelwood College
    • Katelyn O’Sullivan, Hazelwood College

    14-17 General Category

    • Kate O’Sullivan, Hazelwood College
    • Dawn Riedy, Hazelwood College
    • Aisling O’Connor, Hazelwood College

    14-17 Additional Needs Category

    • Eoin Sweeney, Hazelwood College
    • Nell O’Keefe, Holy Family School, Charleville
    • James Gubbins, Holy Family School, Charleville

    Adult Additional Needs Category

    • Emma Madigin, Holy Family School, Charleville

    No. 1 for 7 Years in a Row

    Credit unions maintain top spot for Best Customer Experience for seventh year in a row.

    For an unprecedented seventh consecutive year, Credit unions have claimed the top position for the best customer experience in Ireland at the official CXi awards announced today. Credit unions are also the only brand to have maintained a constant presence in the Top Ten since the survey began, a testament to the consistency of their CX excellence.

    The Customer Experience Insight (CXi) Report is published annually by the CX Company based on a survey carried out on their behalf by Amárach Research. Over 28,000 experiences were evaluated using the CX Framework, including value, channel usage, how important employees are to the customer experience, and net promoter score (NPS) which measures the loyalty of customers to a company.

    If you are not a member, maybe its time to pop into your local credit union to see how we can help you to achieve your goals and dreams. Find out more about joining Kilmallock Credit Union.

    Speaking at today’s announcement, ILCU Head of Communications, Paul Bailey said, “Credit unions keep topping the CXi poll every year for one key reason – they treat their customers as members. They understand their members’ needs at different stages of their lives and tailor their services accordingly. Best in class customer, or member, experience happens organically with staff not even realising they are ticking all the emotional drivers on which CX is measured. Credit union values and ethos are not just words hanging in a picture frame on the wall of the credit union office – they are put into action on a daily basis by friendly, understanding and people focused staff. This is why credit unions have topped the CXi poll for the seventh year in a row.

    Michael Killeen, Chairman of the CX Company, speaking at today’s award ceremony said, “The fact that credit unions have topped the poll again this year comes as no surprise to us in the CX Company. Year on year, we have seen the credit union tick all the emotional drivers which are so important for customers. Not only do they meet their members’ expectations, they continue to exceed them. The achievement of seven in a row is unparalleled anywhere in the world where Customer Experience is measured and it will be some time before this record is broken.

    Click here to read the full report.

    Junior Savers Week

    This week is ‘Junior Savers Week’. Check out our savings tips on our social media pages during the week. Download our savings chart here to set a savings goal and help them track their progress.

    Studies* show that giving kids hands-on, real-world experience with money is essential to prepare them financially for adulthood.

    In a focus group of Irish parents conducted by the Irish League of Credit Unions and insights company Parents and Brands,* many parents confirmed that physical experiences – like putting coins in piggy bank or savings account, or shopping with a list, was the best way to teach children about money.

    The Credit Union have also partnered with educational company Twinkl, to provide free, educational resources for children in primary school, called ‘Start Money Smart’ specifically focused on finance and money. All the materials are available for parents and teachers to download on

    A huge part of our ethos at Kilmallock Credit Union is financial education for the everyone in our community. We want to ensure that our future generations are financially educated and empowered. Teaching children the value of money is a real benefit to them in the future and habits learned from an early age last a lifetime. We want to encourage the development of a regular savings habit during Junior Savers Week and want to encourage all children to join us here at the credit union and open their very first savings account!

    Fun Activities for Junior Savers Week

    Tips for parents / guardians to help children save:

    1. Consider rewarding children for regular saving. Don’t focus on the amount saved, but the fact that they are developing a savings habit. Supporting and rewarding them to save even very small amounts on a regular basis will help to imbed the habit.
    2. Help decide on a savings goal. They will find it much easier to save regularly when they are savings towards something they really want.
    3. Dissuade young people from spending their savings on impulse. Remind them of their savings goal and what they originally wanted to save for. Share with them a story of something that you would have saved for when you were younger.
    4. Help develop a savings plan, calendar or mood-board to highlight when their goal will be achieved. Having a visual prop or a visual ‘countdown’ can also encourage them to stick to their target. Download our savings chart here.
    5. Give pocket money or allowances in small denominations and encourage them to put a little aside. Giving them a transparent piggy bank or jar so they can watch their money physically increase, is also a good idea.
    6. Consider linking pocket money and allowances to chores or responsibilities in the home. This helps to embed the idea that money must be earned. The more effort required to earn their money, the less likely they will be to spend on impulse or all at once.
    7. If pocket money and allowances run out at an early stage, don’t rush to replace them. Providing additional money at the drop of a hat will defeat the purpose of giving a set allowance.
    8. Why not get them to open their own account in Kilmallock Credit Union. This will give them a sense of independence and responsibility.

    To open a child’s accounts the following documents are required:

    • Proof of Identity: Current Passport or Birth Certificate for the child. Current and In Date Passport or Drivers Licence for parents.
    • Proof of Address: An original utility bill, bank statement or social welfare document showing your current address. Please Note: Document must be dated within 3 months.
    • Proof of PPSN: for child and parent. Payslip, P60, Revenue correspondence, Old Social Services Card. Please Note: Your payslip must be dated within 3 months.
    • €5.50: This is to open your account and it will be your minimum share balance. This includes a Membership fee of €0.50c and a minimum opening balance of €5.
    • Membership applications for minors can only be completed in-branch.
    • Click here to see our opening hours.

    *Ashley B. LeBaron, Brigham Young University – 115 study participants: 90 college students aged 18-30, as well as some students’ parents and grandparents. 2018.
    *Parents and Brands, 3 day online panel with 60 parents, July 2021.

    Credit Union Art Competition 2021

    All you have to do is IMAGINE!

    Our hugely popular Credit Union Art Competition returns for another year! You can download the entry form here.

    Now in its 38th year, the Credit Union Art Competition strives to encourage artists throughout Ireland through self-expression, creativity and imagination.

    This year’s theme “Imagine”, encourages people to explore their thoughts, hopes and dreams, and portray them on paper or canvass.

    To quote Albert Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Imagination is a powerful tool which helps people escape from reality. Imagination can also be the start of a brilliant idea which could change the world.


    There are two categories – General Category & Additional Needs Category – with the following age groups in each category. Age limit applying as at December 31st 2021.

    • 7 years and under
    • 8 – 10 years inclusive
    • 11 – 13 years inclusive
    • 14 – 17 years inclusive
    • 18 years and over (Adult)

    Please download the entry form below and attach it to the back of your artwork. You must then drop the artwork to your nearest Kilmallock Credit Union Branch before close of business on Friday 15th October, 2021.


    The closing date for entries is close of business on Friday 15th October 2021.


    The competition is organised into three stages with the winner in each category being forwarded to the next stage, these being:

    • Stage1 Credit Union Level
    • Stage 2 Chapter (Regional) Level
    • Stage 3 National Level

    You can download the entry form here.

    2021 Back to School Survey Findings

    The latest Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) survey on back to school costs shows the overall spend on school items is up for both primary and secondary schools.

    Despite the pandemic lockdowns and children being home schooled for the early part of the year, back to school spending is already on the minds of parents as they prepare for the new school year. The latest Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) survey on back to school costs shows the overall spend on school items is up for both primary and secondary schools.

    • Parents now spending €1,491 per secondary school child – an increase of €24
    • Parents spend €1186 per primary school child – an increase of €63
    • Back to school costs still a challenge for parents with 63% of parents finding it a financial burden
    • A quarter of parents (24%) are getting into debt to cover the costs of back to school with 21% having debts over €500
    • The average debt parents find themselves in is €336
    • 65% of parents believe that schools don’t do enough to help keep the costs of going back to school down
    • 71% of schools still seeking a “voluntary contribution”
    • 65% of parents say that that home-schooling and lockdowns had a negative effect on their child’s overall educational performance

    School books once again top the list this year as the most expensive item for parents of secondary school children at €211, up from €196 last year. Extracurricular activities are the top cost for primary school parents at €178, up from €167 last year. Spending on gym gear/sports equipment has increased for both primary school (€77, up €15 from 2020) and secondary school (€121, up €11 from 2020). Significantly, 43% of parents say they will have to deny their children new gym gear, a sharp increase of 16% from 2020. Parents also reported that 71% of schools are still seeking ‘voluntary contributions’.

    Funding back to school continues to be a challenge for parents with 63% of parents saying that covering the cost of back to school is a financial burden. Nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) are getting into debt to cover the costs of back to school. Of these, three quarters have debts of over €200 with 21% having debts over €500. The average debt parents find themselves incurring is €336 which encouragingly is down €61 on last year’s figure.

    Over two thirds (68%) of Irish parents said they use their monthly income to pay for back to school costs, followed by savings at 36%. Unsurprisingly, the number of parents using savings is up 2% from 2020, possibly due to reduced spending during the lockdown. Those relying on their credit card to pay for back to school costs is also slightly down at 17%, a reduction of 3%. A credit union loan is the preferred choice of 5% of parents, while 3% are still turning to moneylenders. 14% of parents rely on the state’s Back to School allowance, up 1% from last year.

    This year’s survey also revealed that 68% of parent’s now shop online for school supplies, a rise of 2% from 2020, with respondent’s citing convenience (61%) as the main reason for doing so.

    Impacts of COVID-19 – Home-schooling and Lockdowns

    For the second year running, the survey also looked at the impact and concerns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    • 7 in 10 adults surveyed reporting that the mental health of their household has been affected, and almost a third saying that their physical health has suffered.
    • As expected, households struggled with the challenges of home schooling with almost 1 in 3 parents saying they found it difficult to juggle home-schooling with work commitments and over a quarter agreeing that home-schooling was a burden.
    • 1 in 3 parents (35%) said the extra cost of feeding children when home-schooling had the biggest effect on household finances. This was a noticeable increase (14%) from 2020. Over one fifth (22%) of parents reported that expenditure on laptops/tablets to support home-schooling has had an impact on their household finances compared to 11% in 2020.
    • 65% of respondents agreed that that home-schooling and lockdowns had a negative effect on their children’s overall educational performance, and that their children were less focused on schoolwork.
    • One of the biggest impacts of home schooling and lockdowns, according to 88% of parents, was that children missed their friends and social activities. 60% also said that, despite this, children enjoyed being at home and spending more time with family.

    New School Year

    • As a result of schools being closed for a number of weeks at the start of the year, 37% of parents think that the school calendar should be adjusted to accommodate for missed time. 31% of respondents believe that a focus should be put on children’s mental health when they return to school in September.
    • While a decision on the rollout of vaccinations to school children in Ireland is being considered by Government, the survey revealed that 72% of parents agree vaccinations should be offered to secondary school students with 48% in agreement for primary school students.
    • The biggest concern for parents about their children returning to school is the impact of a further lockdown (48%), while 41% are worried about exposure to COVID-19 and the health and safety of their children.

    Worried about the expenses? We can help!

    Talk to us about a low rate student loan at 6% to help with those Back-to-School expenses. Use our loan calculator to see your repayments.

    No appointment needed and new members can join and apply for a loan same day.

    Celebrating Nora Herlihy

    On this International Women’s Day, we would like to celebrate Nora Herlihy, one of the founding members of the Credit Union movement.

    At a time when women were not prominent in Irish society, Nora Herlihy, from Ballydesmond on the Cork-Kerry border and who attended secondary school in Newcastle West; played a pivotal role in the foundation of the Credit Union movement; along with Sean Forde and Seamus P. MacEoin. Teaching in Dublin in the 1950s, Nora witnessed the poor living conditions, hunger and sickness caused by the high levels of unemployment in the city. Many people were in the grips of moneylenders. Nora set about putting in place a plan for people to control their own finances and went to study the co-operative system in operation in other places in the world.

    On the 6th March 1954 with Thomas Hogan, Nora formed the Dublin Central Co-Operative Society. It was set up to help create employment and to tackle the affliction of emigration. Nora continued in her studies and soon the fledging Credit Union movement was born. The first two Irish credit unions were founded under Nora’s guiding influence. Nora also became the secretary to the ILCU on its founding in 1960 (then called the Credit Union League of Ireland); and it operated from the main living room of her house in Dublin for many years. Nora stood beside President Éamon De Valera, who was raised in Bruree on the Athlacca Road, when he signed the 1966 Credit Union Act into law.

    Nora passed away on 7th February 1988, the 28th anniversary of the founding of the ILCU. She left a powerful legacy in a thriving credit union movement.

    We would like to acknowledge the incredible work and contribution made by Nora Herlihy which continues to help communities throughout the country.