Some consumers are heading back to a "credit-fuelled lifestyle" after the conservatism of the credit crisis, warns Dun&Bradstreet.
Releasing its latest consumer credit expectations survey today, the firm said 36 percent of those questioned in a survey expected to use credit to pay for otherwise unaffordable expenses in coming months.
Middle aged and high income households stood out as being more likely to use credit than other households.
The online survey of 1000 people looked at expectations for savings, credit usage, spending and debt for the September quarter.
It found 18 percent of households expect their debt levels to rise during the quarter, while 28 percent of those questioned expected to make a major purchase.
Dun&Bradstreet New Zealand general manager John Scott said it appeared some people had failed to learn important lessons from the global credit crisis.
Many were expecting to need to pay expenses on their credit card, with some planning to make significant purchases which would be funded using credit or interest free deals, Mr Scott said.
"It is clear some consumers are finding it tough making ends meet, while for others, it appears that consumer conservatism has fallen by the wayside and a return to a credit fuelled lifestyle is on the horizon."
The survey found 43 percent of middle aged respondents -- between 35 and 49 -- expected to use credit cards to pay for otherwise unaffordable expenses.
For high income households the figure was 38 percent, and for women it was 40 percent compared to 33 percent for men.
Interest rate rises by the Reserve Bank would have a negative impact on 54 percent of middle aged people, 53 percent of high income households, and 49 percent of women. The national average was 46 percent.
Concerns about rising interest rates did appear to be steering people away from new credit applications, with fewer than 10 percent of households intending to apply for a credit card, home loan, personal loan or credit limit increase, Dun&Bradstreet said.
While young people had traditionally been the group which demonstrated a lack of understanding about appropriate credit behaviour, the latest survey showed a trend within that demographic to be more cautious with debt.
Among 18 to 34-year-olds, 40 percent indicated they may have extra funds in coming months, with 53 percent indicating they would save the funds. The number of young people saying they use their credit card to pay for otherwise unaffordable expenses was 7 percentage points lower than for those in middle age.
Mr Scott said the latest results indicated that for some groups a shift toward better financial management seen when the credit crisis was in full swing appeared to be a long term move.
But some people appeared to have failed to learn important lessons from the crisis.