UK credit and debit card statistics

By Marianne Curphey

This page contains consumer credit and debt statistics -- including statistics on credit card debt, credit card delinquencies, credit scores, credit card interest rates, debit cards, prepaid cards, bankruptcies and more -- compiled by a research team. Statistics on this page will be updated periodically. 

Card ownership and use
The UK is the biggest card payments market in the European Union, accounting for more than 30% of all EU card spending, and 73% of the EU credit card market.1

97.4 million debit cards were in circulation in the UK as of November 2015.2

54.1 million contactless debit cards were in circulation as of November 2015, accounting for 54% of total debit cards in circulation.2

Credit card use continues to rise. There were 242 million purchases made on credit cards in November 2015, with a total value of £13.2 billion. This spending volume was 14% higher than in November 2014.17

About 60 million credit cards are in circulation, relating to 51 million accounts. About 67% of these were active at the end of November 2015.17

About 42% of all credit card balances incur no interest.17

The overall value of card transactions across the UK increased by 5% to £802 billion in 2014.9

As of 2012, 85% of UK customers had at least one loyalty or reward card.15

75% of all spending in the UK retail sector was made using plastic cards as of the end of November 2013.1

During November 2015, domestic spending on debit cards amounted to £38.9 billion, compared to £34.9 billion spent in November 2014.2

The number of debit card purchases made in the UK also continued to increase strongly and reached 897 million in November 2015, compared to 785 million the previous year.2

The number of international purchases on debit cards reached 118 million in November 2015, up from 93 million in 2014.2

The domestic average transaction value on debit cards rose by 2p between October 2015 and November 2015 to stand at £43.43 -- the first monthly increase since February 2015 -- and compares to £44.38 in the same period in 2014.2

There were 2.6 billion debit card transactions amounting to £110.8 billion in Q3 2015.19

The above figure compares with 2.3 billion debit card transactions amounting to £100.8 billion in Q3 2014.27

Credit card transactions numbered 798 million in Q3 2015, amounting to £45.9 billion, up from 778 million transactions worth £45.2 billion in the previous quarter.19

Average credit card effective interest rate (all balances) was 10.67% in November 2014,25 but that rate fell to 10.36% in November 2015.20

Total lending (that is, all sterling lending to the UK household sector, excluding student loans, unincorporated businesses and non-profit institutions serving households) increased by £3.3 billion in November 2014, compared to the average monthly increase of £3.0 billion over the previous six months. The 3-month annualised and 12-month growth rates were both 2.4%.11

Consumer credit increased by £1.3 billion in November 2014, compared to the average monthly increase of £1 billion over the previous six months. The 3-month annualised and 12-month growth rates were 8.3% and 6.9% respectively. Consumer credit is defined as borrowing by UK individuals to finance current expenditures on goods and/or services. It is split into two components: credit card lending and "other" lending, mainly overdrafts and other loans or advances. Consumer credit excludes student loans.11

Consumer credit increased by £1.3 billion in September 2015, unchanged from the average monthly increase over the previous six months. The 12-month annualised growth rate was 8.2%.21

Within consumer credit, credit card lending increased by £0.3 billion in September 2015. Other loans and advances increased by £1 billion.21

Contactless Cards
Contactless debit cards accounted for 54% of total debit cards in circulation as of November 2015, up from 36% in 2014. This growth was mainly driven by increasing consumer awareness and the growing number of businesses accepting contactless payments.2

Fraud on contactless cards was low in 2014, with just £153,000 (of £2.32 billion spent) lost. This represents just 0.7p in every £100 spent on contactless.9

As of October 2015, contactless card transactions accounted for a record one in 10 card payments.4

There were 120.5 million contactless card payments in October 2015 in the UK, meaning that 10.3% of all card transactions were contactless, up from just 3.7%  the previous year.4

As of October 2015, there were 76 million contactless cards in issue in the UK (52.3 million debit cards, 23.7 million credit/charge cards). This is an increase of 39.7% over the year.13

£929.8 million was spent on contactless cards in the UK in October 2015, an increase of 213% over the previous year. The value is split between debit (£812.9 million) and credit/charge cards (£116.9 million).13          

Debt (credit card, total consumer)
Gross lending averaged £14.7 billion per month in Q3 of 2015. This compares to a monthly average of £13.2 billion in Q3 2014.19

Growth in net lending (gross lending less repayments and other adjustments) averaged £333 million per month in Q3 2015. The monthly average in Q3 2014 was £191 million.19

At the end of Q3 2015, the total amount owed by consumers on credit cards stood at £62.7 billion. Around 42% of all outstanding balances in Q3 incurred 0% interest.19

That £62.7 billion accounted for just 4.3% of total personal sector debt on credit cards (£1,452 billion). This proportion has consistently declined since peaking at around 6.1% in 2002.19

Of the £56.9 billion outstanding on credit cards at the end of 2013, interest-bearing balances accounted for £33.8 billion, with non-interest-bearing balances amounting to £23.1 billion.5

Unsecured consumer debt, made up mostly of credit card balances, almost tripled between 1993 and 2013 reaching nearly £160 billion in November 2013. Indebted households in the poorest 10% of the country had average debts more than four times their annual income.8

Between 2014 and 2015, net borrowing through personal loans rose at an annual rate of more than 5%.17

People in the UK owed £1.458 trillion at the end of November 2015. This is up from £1.42 trillion at the end of November 2014 -- an extra £708.35 per UK adult.24

Around 7 million people use high-cost credit, such as payday loans.14

The average debt per household -- including mortgages -- was £54,012 in October 2015. Per adult in the UK, that's an average debt of £28,826 -- around 113.1% of average earnings.18

Based on November 2015 trends, the UK's total interest repayments on personal debt over a 12-month period would have been £52.847 billion -- an average of £145 million per day. Per person, that's £1,046 -- 4.1% of average earnings.18

Outstanding consumer credit lending was £178.15 billion at the end of November 2015. This is up from £168.6 billion at the end of November 2014, an increase of £188.90 for every adult in the UK.18

The average household held credit debt of £6,598 in November 2015, up from a revised £6,562 in October 2015, or £353.33 extra per household over the year.18

The average consumer credit card borrowing stood at £3,528 per UK adult in November 2015. This is down from £3,508 in October 2015.18

Total credit card debt in November 2015 was £63.1 billion, or £2,336 per household. For a credit card bearing the average interest, it would take 25 years and 5 months to repay if you made only the minimum repayment each month.18

Total net lending to individuals by UK banks and building societies rose by £5.3 billion in November 2015 -- or £177 million a day.18

Identity theft and fraud
Between January 2013 and June 2013, fraud losses on UK cards totalled £216.1 million --  29% less than in the equivalent period in 2008, when fraud was at its peak (£304.2 million).1

Online banking fraud reached £60.4 million in 2014. The number of confirmed online banking fraud loss incidents was 53,192, a relatively modest number considering the Office for National Statistics reports that 53% of UK adults use online banking, which equates to 26.9 million users.9

In the first half of 2013, fraud from online and phone purchases was £142 million -- down by nearly 25% since a peak in 2008, despite a two-thirds increase in online card spending over the same period.1

Since the inception of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit in 2002, the unit claims to have achieved £450 million in savings from reduced fraud, and has recovered approximately 700,000 counterfeit cards and compromised card numbers (as of 2014).1

Fraud losses
Card-not-present (CNP) fraud (that is, fraud in which the thief does not physically present the card to the merchant during the fraudulent transaction) accounted for three-quarters of card fraud cases and fraud losses in the UK from 2012-2014.6

Although losses from CNP fraud saw an overall increase in the two-year period ending in mid-2014, so did the number of card transactions, leaving the overall risk posed by CNP fraud the same as in previous years. Other types of fraud, including cross-border fraud, also remained consistent with previous years.6

Fraud losses on all UK issued cards totalled £479 million in 2014, a 6% rise over 2013. This is still 21% lower than the peak of £609.9 million in 2008.9

Card fraud losses as a proportion of the value of purchases was 7.5p per every £100 spent in 2014. In 2008, this was 12.4p for every £100.9

The overall number of incidents of card fraud was 1.3 million in 2014. Losses on purchases made using a card remotely -- those made online, over the phone or by mail order -- totalled £331.5 million in 2014.9

E-commerce card fraud losses increased from £190.1 million in 2013 to £217.4 million in 2014 -- a 14% rise. In 2014 e-commerce spending in the UK was £148 billion, meaning that for every £100 spent, only 9.2p was fraudulent.9

Losses at UK retailers and UK ATMs in 2014 due to fraud amounted to £49.2 million and £27.3 million, respectively.9

£150.3 million was lost to criminals using UK cards fraudulently abroad, and domestic card losses totalled £328 million. A key reason for rising levels of fraud abroad on UK cards is that criminals circumvent their security features when using them in overseas locations.9

Altrincham has become the top location for identity fraud in the UK, outside certain parts of London (there are areas of the capital with significantly higher rates of identity fraud). The Cheshire town recorded 13 fraud attempts for every 10,000 adults, according to a report released in June 2013.10

Online and mobile use
In 2012, the total number of consumer internet purchases made by debit and credit cards rose to just over 900 million, or 10% of all card payments.1

Spending online grew by 1.0% to £11.7 billion between September 2015 and October 2015, representing 22% of total card spending.3

The number of online purchases rose by 1.5% between September 2015 and October 2015, to reach a record of 137 million, accounting for 12% of the total number of card purchases.3

UK consumers spent £104 billion online in 2014, the first time annual spending exceeded £100 billion.16

Sales via smartphones and tablet devices during the 2014 Christmas period, defined as the eight weeks between 2 November and 27 December, recorded 55% growth over the same period in 2013.16

£8 billion was spent via mobile commerce during the 2014 Christmas period, compared to £5.1 billion the year before. Sales on mobile devices represented 37% of online sales and an estimated 8.9% of total retail sales.16

Bankruptcy and delinquency
As of January 2015, 270 people in the UK were declared insolvent or bankrupt daily (compared with 266 in April 2014). This is equivalent to one person approximately every 5.5 minutes.7 

As of January 2015, 2,083 Consumer County Court Judgements were issued every day, with an average value of £2,158 (compared with 1,537 in April 2014).7

Citizens Advice Bureau in England and Wales dealt with 4,097 new debt problems every day during the quarter ending September 2015.18

More than 300,000 people in the UK are too poor to go bankrupt because they cannot afford the £525 fee, and 8 million British households have no savings -- one of the lowest savings rates in the EU.14

In the third quarter of 2015, there were an estimated 3,063 company liquidations -- a 5.4% decrease on the previous quarter and 10.6% less than in Q3 2014.24

There were an estimated 2,451 creditors' voluntary liquidations in Q3 2015, a decrease of 0.7% from the previous quarter, 4.3% fewer than Q3 2014 and the lowest since Q2 2008.24

In July to September 2015, there were 612 compulsory liquidations, a decrease of 20.4% on the previous quarter, and down 29.2% compared with the same quarter in 2014. The number of compulsory liquidations was at the lowest quarterly level since Q3 1989.24

Total insolvency rates were highest in parliamentary constituencies near the coasts, and in the South West, North East, Merseyside and parts of Yorkshire and East Midlands. Total insolvency rates were lowest in parliamentary constituencies in London, the South East and parts of the North West.23

The total number of people who became insolvent in Q3 2015 in England and Wales decreased compared with the same quarter in 2014, but increased compared with the previous quarter.24

There were a total of 19,683 individual insolvencies in England and Wales in Q3 2015, comprising 3,857 bankruptcies, 5,629 debt relief orders (DROs), and 10,197 individual voluntary arrangements.24

The number of bankruptcies within Q3 2015 was at the lowest level since Q4 1990. There were 3,857 bankruptcy orders in Q3 2015, 21.4% lower than Q3 2014.24

There were 5,629 DROs in Q3 2015, which is 17.3% lower compared to the same period in 2014.24

The rate of insolvency decreased in the 12 months ending Q3 2015, when 1 in 550 adults (0.18% of the adult population) became insolvent. This was the lowest rate since the 12 months ending Q4 2005.24

The proportion of classic (non-premium) UK credit cards with no delinquencies hit a 10-year high at the end of 2013 -- nearly 95% of classic cards were current.26

Customer satisfaction
Between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) handled 2,357,374 enquiries -- more than 8,000 each working day.12

There were 512,167 new cases referred to adjudicators and ombudsmen for further dispute-resolution work. 487,749 cases were resolved by adjudicators through mediation, recommended settlements and adjudications, and 31,029 cases were resolved by ombudsmen making formal decisions at the final "appeal" stage of the dispute-resolution process.12

During this time, there were 10,472 new complaints about credit cards.12

Complaints about banking and credit accounted for 13% (65,077) of all cases handled by the FOS in 2014. Of the complaints about banking and credit, 36% were complaints about charges; 23% were about administration, and 16% were about sales and advice.12

In the financial year 2014-2015, 63% of new complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service were about the sale of payment protection insurance -- 204,943 complaints overall.22

Complaints about payday loans rose by nearly 50% during the financial year 2014-2015, while complaints about PPI fell by a half.22

The FOS resolved 448,387 complaints, with more than nine in 10 settled informally by internal adjudicators.22


1. UK Cards Association Annual Report 2014

2. UK Cards Association Debit Card Report November 2015

3. UK Cards Association Card Expenditure Statistics October 2015

4. UK Cards Association Card Expenditure News October 2015

5. UK Cards Association summary of key statistics for Q4 2013

6. FICO Benchmark Reporting Service

7. The Money Charity Debt Statistics January 2015  

8. Centre for Social Justice report: "Maxed Out: Serious personal debt in Britain"

9. Financial Fraud Action Annual Review 2015

10. Experian report June 2013

11. Insolvency Service; Statistics Release: Insolvencies in the First Quarter 2014

12. Financial Ombudsman Service Annual Review 2013-14

13. UK Cards Association Contactless Cards Statistics October 2015

14. Centre for Social Justice report July 2014

15. Cap Gemini: Next Generation Loyalty Management Systems: Trends, Challenges, and Recommendations (2013)

16. Cap Gemini report, January 2015

17. BBA Monthly Statistics Release November 2015

18. Money Charity Statistics December 2015

19. UK Cards Association Statistics Q3 2015

20. Bank of England Statistical Release November 2015

21. Bank of England Money and Credit September 2015

22. Financial Ombudsman Review 2014-2015

23. The Insolvency Service: Individual Insolvencies by Location, England and Wales, 2014:

Parliamentary Constituency Supplement

24. The Insolvency Service: Insolvency Statistics July to September 2015 (Q3 2015)

25. BBA Statistical Release November 2014

26. FICO Report Average £ sales per UK classic credit card

27. UK Cards Association summary of key statistics for Q3 2014

Updated: 13 May 2016