UK credit and debit card statistics

By Marianne Curphey

statistics

This page contains consumer credit and debt statistics - including statistics on credit card debt, card ownership, fraud, debit cards, bankruptcies and more - compiled by a UK.CreditCards.com research team. Statistics on this page will be updated periodically. 

 

Card ownership and use

As of October 2016, there were a total of 100.1 million contactless cards in issue in the UK. Of these, 31.5 million were credit/charge cards.14

68.7 million contactless debit cards were in circulation as of October 2016, accounting for 69% of total debit cards in issue and up from 53% the previous year.2

In September 2015, the UK Cards Association increased the cap on tap-and-go contactless payments to £30. This new limit continues to fuel the use of cards.1

100.1 million debit cards were in circulation in the UK as of October 2016, down from 100.3 million in September 2016, but up from 98.4 million in October 2015.2

The number of contactless debit cards in circulation increased from 74.5 million to 97 million between August 2015 and August 2016.4

 

Borrowing and spending

Annual growth in high street banks' credit card borrowing was 6.2% in March 2016, exceeding growth in the wider (all issuers) credit card market which grew at an annual rate of 5.7%.9

There were 223 million credit card purchases in March 2016, with a total value of £12.6 billion. This spending volume was 2% higher than in March 2015, with an aggregate value 1% lower.9

About 60 million credit cards were in issue as of March 2016, relating to 50 million accounts. About 67% of these were active at the end of March (i.e. carrying a balance relating to card spending and extended credit). About 42% of all balances in aggregate incur no interest at all.9

 

Debit card spending

During October 2016 domestic spending on debit amounted to £39.2 billion, a 0.8% increase on the month before. This was the lowest growth rate since May 2016.2

The growth in the number of purchases made on debit in the UK in October 2016 also slowed to a six-month low of 971 million. This subdued growth could be explained, in part, by the high level of uncertainty in the UK's economic performance following the Brexit vote earlier in 2016, contributing to a fall in consumer confidence.2

The domestic average transaction value (ATV) for debit cards fell by 8p between September and October 2016, to £40.36, the lowest level since May 2003. This measure has declined notably since peaking at £48.69 in June 2010, mainly driven by growing adoption of contactless cards, changing consumer shopping habits coupled with continuing supermarket price wars.2

International ATV, meanwhile, increased for the first time in three months to £27.00. The average monthly spend per card reached the highest level on record, at £428, and the average monthly number of purchases per card also reached a record high at 11.04 during that month.2

In October 2016, each debit card was used to make on average 9.7 payments, while the average monthly spend per card increased by £4 to £392.2

International debit card transactional activity continued to grow at a faster rate than domestic spending, albeit from a much lower base. The number of international purchases rose in October 2016 by 1.9% to reach 133 million compared to 131 million in September 2016 and 122 in October 2015.2

Each debit card was used to make 1.33 international purchases in October 2016, compared with 1.24 in October 2015, while the average spend per card was £35.92, compared to £33.15 in October 2015.2

 

General card spending

Payment card spending in Q3 2016 amounted to £163 billion generated from a record 3.7 billion transactions. Card spending accounted for 77.1% of national retail sales by the end of Q3 2016. ATV registered a quarter-on-quarter increase for the first time since 2013, driven by foreign-issued credit card activity in Q3 2016.6

Payment card spending amounted to £54.7 billion in September 2016, up by 0.6% on August.3

In September 2016, there were 1.3 billion card transactions, 157 million of which were online purchases. Spending online amounted to £12.7 billion.3

Growth in card spending continued to slow down in September 2016 with an annual rate of 4.0% - more than twice lower than September 2015 (8.3%). Slower growth in card spending could be linked to an uptick in the annual consumer price inflation rate to a 22-month high, along with lower consumer confidence after the Brexit vote.3

There was a slight decrease in the average transaction value (ATV) on all payment cards, which fell by 4p to £43.45 in September 2016, well below the level in September 2015 (£45.51).3

 

Contactless card spending

£2,903.2 million was spent in the UK in November 2016 using a contactless card. This is an increase of 3.6% on the previous month and an increase of 183.5% on the previous year. The value is split between debit (£2,553.9 million) and credit / charge cards (£349.3 million).14

324.5m contactless transactions were made in November 2016. This is an increase of 3.8% on the previous month and 154.5% over the year. The volume is split between debit (286.1 million) and credit/charge cards (38.5 million).14

As of November 2016, 439,623 bank-owned terminals are available in the UK where contactless cardholders can make a contactless transaction. This is an increase of 2.3% on the previous month and 44.5% over the year.14

The average contactless transaction was for £8.95 in November 2016. This is split by £8.93 on a debit card and £9.08 on a credit/charge card.14

£9.3 billion was spent using contactless between January and June 2016, more than the total 2015 contactless spend of £7.8 billion.15

 

Debt

Total credit card debt in November 2016 was £66.7 billion. Per household this is £2,469.8

Gross lending averaged £15.3 billion per month in Q3 2016, up from £15.1 billion in Q2 and £14.7 billion the year before. Net lending also increased slightly, averaging £443 million per month, up from £440 million in the previous quarter of 2016 and £361 million the year before.6

At the end of Q3 2016 credit card outstandings stood at £65.7 billion, up by £0.6 billion on the previous quarter. Around 43% of this total was non-interest bearing. This total accounted for 4.4% of total personal sector outstandings (£1,503 billion), compared to a peak of around 6%, recorded in 2002.6

Total lending to individuals increased by £4.9 billion in October 2016, compared to an average monthly increase of £4.2 billion over the previous six months. The three-month annualised and 12-month growth rates were 3.9% and 4.0% respectively.5

Within consumer credit, credit card lending increased by £0.6 billion in October 2016, broadly in line with the average over the previous six months. Other loans and advances increased by £1.0 billion, broadly in line with the average over the previous six months.5

As of March 2016, net borrowing through personal loans was rising at an annual rate of over 5%, according to the BBA.9

People in the UK owed £1.508 trillion at the end of October 2016. This is up from £1.455 trillion at the end of October 2015 - an extra £1,041.23 per UK adult.8

The average total debt per household - including mortgages - was £55,982 in November 2016, up from £55,856 the month before. Per adult in the UK, that is an average debt of £29,930 - around 113.2% of average earnings.8

Based on November 2016 trends, the UK's total interest repayments on personal debt over a 12-month period would have been £50.574 billion. That's an average of £139 million per day. This means that households in the UK would have paid an average of £1,873 in annual interest repayments. Per person that's £1,001 - 3.79% of average earnings.8

According to the Office for Budget Responsibility's November 2016 forecast, household debt is predicted to reach £2.294 trillion in Q1 2022.8

Outstanding consumer credit lending was £192.19 billion at the end of November 2016. This is up from £178.3 billion at the end of November 2015, and is an increase of £275.54 for every adult in the UK.8

Average consumer credit debt per household was £7,118 in November, up from a revised £7,047 in October - and £515.37 extra per household over the year.8

Average consumer credit borrowing stood at £3,806 per UK adult in November 2016. This is up from a revised £3,768 in October.8

Total credit card debt in November 2016 was £66.7 billion. Per household this is £2,469 - for a credit card bearing the average interest, it would take 25 years and 6 months to repay if you made only the minimum repayment each month.8

Total net lending to individuals by UK banks and building societies rose by £5.1 billion in November 2016 - or £170 million a day. Net mortgage lending rose by £3.2 billion in the month; net consumer credit lending rose by £1.9 billion.8

 

Identity theft and fraud

In terms of overall losses, payment card gross fraud showed a slight increase of 1% to £249.9 million in the six months to June 2015, compared with the same period in 2014. However, this period also saw a substantial growth in overall card spending which means card fraud as a proportion of purchases fell to 6.9p for every £100 spent, the lowest level since 2011.1

Losses on purchases made using a card remotely - online, over the phone or by mail order - stayed flat at £174.4 million in the first half of 2015, but the number of incidents of remote purchase fraud fell by 5% during this period. E-commerce card fraud totalled an estimated £109.9 million, relatively unchanged since 2014.1

Online card spending increased by 14.3% to £67.4 billion in the first six months of 2015, up from £59.0 billion in the same period of 2014. At the same time, card fraud losses in the UK fell by 4% to £167.5 million, while overseas losses rose by 14% to £82.4 million.1

Banks successfully prevented £355.4 million of payment card fraud in the first half of 2015.1

The UK saw Europe's largest annual jump in card fraud losses for 2015, according to analysts at FICO. Card fraud rose in 10 of the 19 countries studied, with Greece, Denmark, France and Russia posting the highest rises after the UK.7

Most of the 18% rise in losses in 2015 came from online transactions, reflecting the growth in this channel, the ease of accessibility to funds and lower risk for criminals and the theft of personal data through cybercrime.7

The rise in UK card fraud in 2015 equates to an additional £88.5 million lost. About 75% (£66.7 million) of that increase was in card not present (CNP) fraud, and £42.4 million of CNP fraud came from e-commerce. The UK contributed about 43% of the total card fraud losses across the 19 European countries studied.7

Total financial fraud losses across payment cards, remote banking and cheques in the first half of 2016 increased by 25% to £399.5 million, enabled by scams and online attacks. During the same period in 2015, total fraud losses were £320.3 million.11

Banks' security systems continued to prevent the majority of fraud from taking place in the first half of 2016, with prevented fraud totalling £678.7 million.11

Losses on payment cards - which includes remote purchase fraud, lost and stolen cards, card not received, counterfeit card and card ID theft - stood at £321.5 million in the first half of 2016, compared to £244.6 million in the first half of 2015, an increase of 31%. The prevented loss for cards stood at £475.7 million.11

Remote purchase fraud increased by 31% to £224.1 million between January and June 2016, compared to £171.7 million in the same period of 2015. Intelligence suggests fraudsters are using card details obtained with malware and data breaches, while there are more opportunities to commit such crimes because of the growing number of e-commerce sites.11

There was a slight increase in remote banking losses in the first half of 2016, up from £66.2 million in the first half of 2015, to £70.6 million, with a prevented loss of £103.2 million. Scams continue to drive remote banking fraud, with criminals tricking victims into handing over their money or banking details.11

Fraud on contactless cards remains very low, with £2.8 million of losses over 2015 compared with total spending of £7.75 billion. This represents just 3.6p in every £100 spent on contactless.10

 

Online and mobile use

In September 2016, online spending accounted for 23% of total card spending, with the number of e-commerce payments accounting for 13% of the total number of card payments.3

Spending online amounted to £12.7 billion, while the number of online purchases rose to 157 million during September 2016.3

The value of online retail sales grew 18.9% year-on-year (YoY) in October 2016. This was building on a comparatively low rate in October 2015 (when growth was 8.7%), but it still represents the highest YoY growth rate in any month since November 2014, when Black Friday had a huge impact on pre-Christmas shopping patterns.12

Growth for online retail sales was at 15.1% from January to September 2016 against the same period in 2015, 37.3% ahead of the original start-of-year forecast of 11%.17

The total estimated spend on online retail sites on Black Friday 2016 was £1.23 billion - a 12.2% increase on the £1.1 billion spent on the same day in 2015 and almost a quarter lower than the original forecast growth of 16%. An estimated £6.45 billion was spent over the Black Friday peak period (Monday 21 - Monday 28 November 2016).18

Across mobile channels, tablets made a resurgence in October 2016, with sales completed on the device up 6.0% YoY. In the lead-up to Black Friday, it may be the ease of browsing multiple sites and products on the device that has boosted their use over smartphones which offer smaller display screens.12

 

Bankruptcy

264 people a day are declared insolvent or bankrupt as of November 2016.8

There are 2,102 consumer county court judgments (CCJs) issued every day as of November 2016, with an average value of £2,030.8

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.16

The number of people who became insolvent in England and Wales was 24,251 in Q3 2016, a 6.0% increase on the previous quarter, and 19.3% higher than the same quarter in 2015. There were 13,917 individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) in Q3 2016, which was 10.9% higher compared to Q2 2016 and 28.8% higher compared to the same period in 2015.19

The number of debt relief orders (DROs) decreased on the quarter in Q3 2016, but increased on the year. There were 6,490 DROs, which was a 3.7% decrease compared to Q2, but 15.3% higher when compared to the same period in 2015.19

There were 3,844 bankruptcy orders in Q3 2016, an increase of 7.0% compared with last quarter, but 1.5% lower than Q3 2015. The number of bankruptcies resulting from debtor applications increased by 12.0% compared with the last quarter, while bankruptcies following a creditor petition fell by 3.7%.19

The rate of insolvency increased in the 12 months ending Q3 2016, as 1 in 515 adults (0.19% of the adult population) became insolvent.19

Around 8.8 million people would benefit from debt advice but only one in six seek help.16

 

Customer satisfaction

Between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016, the Financial Ombudsman answered 1,631,955 enquiries from consumers - over 5,000 each working day. Of these, one in five was taken on for a more detailed investigation - a total of 340,899 new complaints. A total of 438,802 complaints were resolved.13

Of the new complaints, 56% were about the sale of payment protection insurance (PPI). Excluding PPI, two-thirds of complaints were resolved within three months.13

Complaints about packaged bank accounts more than doubled - while complaints about credit broking fell by more than half.13

More than half of the total number of complaints involved four banking groups - while 4,076 financial businesses accounted for just 3% of complaints.13

Of the total complaints resolved, 8,200 (3.5%) were about credit cards, a fall of 3% on the previous year, while 460 were about store cards, up 2% from the previous year.13

 

Sources:

1. UK Cards Association Annual Report 2016

2. UK Cards Association Debit Card Report October 2016

3. UK Cards Association Card Expenditure Statistics September 2016

4. UK Cards Association News November 2016

5. Bank of England Money and Credit October 2016

6. The UK Cards Association summary of key statistics for Q3 2016

7. FICO News August 2016

8. The Money Charity Statistics January 2017

9. BBA Monthly Statistics Release March 2016

10. Financial Fraud Action Annual Review 2016

11. Financial Fraud Action News October 2016

12. Cap Gemini report, November 2016

13. Financial Ombudsman Service Annual Review 2015-16

14. The UK Cards Association Contactless Cards Statistics November 2016

15. BBA Report: The Benefits of Banking October 2016

16. Centre for Social Justice report July 2014

17. Cap Gemini Report November 2016

18.  IMRG Report: Black Friday 2016 sales

19. The Insolvency Service: Insolvency Statistics July to September 2016 (Q3 2016)

Updated: 20 January 2017