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UK credit and debit card statistics

By Marianne Curphey

Updated: 3 June 2014

 
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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 UK.CreditCards.com 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

90.5 million debit cards were in circulation in the UK at the end of November 2013.1

58 million credit and charge cards were in circulation in the UK in February 2014. Of those, 66% were active (have an outstanding balance). 2

In February 2014, there were 175 million credit card transactions, worth a total of £10.4 billion.2

The estimated daily value of all purchases made using plastic cards in December 2014 was £1.469 billion.12

Domestic spending on all payment cards accounted for 33% of UK gross domestic product (GDP) during 2012. 1

75% of all spending in the UK retail sector was made using plastic cards at the end of November 2013. 1

In 2013, there were 39 million contactless cards in circulation, and 94 million contactless card transactions.1

In 2013, contactless card transactions accounted for about £609 million worth of total spending by cardholders.1

Sales per average card rose £74 to £612 between December 2011 and December 2013. Veteran accounts (open for at least five years) drove this growth, with average sales per card rising £101.4

Between December 2011 and December 2013, average sales grew by £46 for cards open less than five years, and fell by £35 for cards opened within the last year. Average sales per classic card hit a low point of £339 in September 2003.4

 

Debt (credit card, total consumer)
At the end of 2013, outstanding credit card debt averaged £57.4 billion a month.1

At the end of 2013, 40% of consumers paid off outstanding balances in full each month or at 0% interest.1

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.13

The average annual percentage rate (APR) on credit cards was 11.08% in March 2014, down from 17.69% in March 2013.3

At the end of 2013, total UK personal borrowing was at £1.43 trillion. Credit card debt accounted for 4% of this total; mortgages accounted for 89%.1

As of February 2014, borrowing was growing at an annual rate of 5.1%, and nearly 40% of borrowers were taking advantage of zero-interest offers on balances to manage their cash flow. 2

At the end of 2013, 3.7% of cardholders made minimum repayments on their cards for 12 consecutive months; 2.3% made minimum payments for 24 months.1

Average consumer borrowing (including credit cards, motor and retail finance deals, overdrafts and unsecured loans) per UK adult was £3,168 in February 2014, up from £3,166 in January 2014.5

Unsecured consumer debt almost tripled in the last 20 years, reaching nearly £160 billion in November 2013. Indebted households in the poorest 10% of the country have average debts more than four times their annual income. 6

 

Identity theft and fraud
Between January 2013 and June 2013, fraud losses on UK cards totalled £216.1 million. This figure is still down 29% compared to the equivalent period in 2008 when fraud was at its peak (£304.2 million).1

In the first half of 2013, fraud from online and phone purchases was £142 million. Fraud losses for e-commerce have fallen by just under a quarter since their 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 (DCPCU) in 2002, the unit has achieved £450 million in savings from reduced fraud and recovered approximately 700,000 counterfeit cards and compromised card numbers (as of 2014).1

In 2013, fraud represented 7.4p for every £100 spent.7

In 2013, cheque fraud and telephone banking fraud fell by 22% and 8% respectively from the year before; online banking fraud rose 3%.7

In 2013, fraud losses on UK cards totalled £450.4 million. This figure is down 26% from its peak in 2008. 7

In 2013, there were £301.1 million in losses on remote card purchases (those made online, over the telephone or by mail order). 7

In 2013, online fraud against UK retailers totalled an estimated £105.5 million. Fraud against online retailers based overseas was an estimated £57.8 million. 7

In 2013, loss due to fraud on lost or stolen cards was £58.9 million.7  

"Vishing" over the telephone, where fraudsters trick consumers into parting with personal or financial information, has been identified as a driver for the 14% rise in card ID theft from 2012 to 2013 (card ID theft losses were £36.7 million in 2013).7

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 2013.8

 

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

In 2013, online banking fraud accounted for £40.9 million. Intelligence shows this increase has also been driven by the rise in "vishing" and malware.7

 

Bankruptcy
As of April 2014, 266 people in the UK were declared insolvent or bankrupt daily.5

As of April 2014, 1,537 Consumer County Court Judgements (CCJs) were issued every day (based on Q4 2013 trends). The average value of a Consumer CCJ in the fourth quarter of 2013 was £2,531.5

In the first quarter of 2014, there were 3,721 compulsory liquidations and creditors' voluntary liquidations in England and Wales.9  

In the first quarter of 2014, approximately 1 in 167 active companies (0.6% of all active registered companies) went into liquidation.9

In the first quarter of 2014, there were 24,931 individual insolvencies in England and Wales. This number includes 5,671 bankruptcies, 6,549 Debt Relief Orders (DROs) and 12,711 Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs).9

The introduction of DROs impacted bankruptcy numbers from April 2009, amongst other factors. As of the first quarter of 2014, the number of DROs has been higher than total bankruptcies for seven consecutive quarters, while Bankruptcy Orders have been lower than IVAs for the last 12 quarters. IVAs now make up 51% of all individual insolvencies.9

 

Delinquency
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.4

As of March 2014, average credit lines were at £4,364, their highest point since June 2009. Cardholders are paying off more of their balance each month, with the percentage of payments to balance at 27.5 percent in December 2013.4

 

Customer satisfaction
Between 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2013, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) handled 2,161,439 initial enquiries and complaints from consumers - more than 7,000 each working day.10

During this time, 74% of new cases were about the sale of payment protection insurance (PPI); there were 378,699 PPI complaints.10

During this time, there were 19, 634 new complaints about credit cards.10

During this time, the FOS resolved 223,229 cases -- resulting in compensation for consumers in 49% of complaints. 10

Complaints about banking and credit accounted for 15% of all cases handled by the FOS (77,176) in 2013. Payment protection insurance (PPI) accounted for 378,699 of all cases. Of the complaints about banking and credit, 34% were complaints about charges; 33% were about administration, and 11% were about sales and advice. 10

 

Rewards
With regard to loyalty cards, the European card market is not fully mature with the exception of the UK, where consumer penetration of loyalty programs had reached 85% as of 2012. 11

 

Sources:

1. UK Cards Association Annual Report 2014

2. BBA credit card market February 2014

3. Bank of England Money and Credit Report March 2014

4. FICO Benchmark Reporting Service

5. The Money Charity Debt Statistics April 2014  

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

7. Financial Fraud Action report March 2014

8. Experian report June 2013

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

10. Financial Ombudsman Service Annual Review 2012-13

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

12. The Money Charity Debt Statistics March 2014

13. The UK Cards Association summary of key statistics for Q4 2013

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