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2012 facts and figures

Quarterly market trends

The quarterly statistical release provides a regular update, with statistics covering debit and credit card spending, credit card lending and repayments and outstanding balances. This is an example of the regular dissemination of industry information.


Number of cards at year end

  • There were 169.0 million cards in issue – 56.4 million credit cards, 6.6 million charge cards, 88.6 million debit cards and 17.4 million ATM-only cards.
  • The total number of plastic cards in issue in 2012 increased by 2.0% leaving the end-year total at 169 million – following a marginal decline in 2011.

Credit and charge card figures

  • Credit and charge cards were used to make 2.2 billion purchases in the UK to a value of £140 billion.
  • There were just over 30 million credit and charge card holders in 2012, 61% of the UK adult population.
  • UK credit and charge card purchase volumes are expected to grow to 3.5 billion in 2022, with a total spend of £214 billion in that year.

Debit card figures

Debit card transactions* as percentage of card market

  • Debit cards were used to make 7.7 billion purchases in the UK to a value of £337 billion.
  • The number of debit card holders increased by around a million compared to 2011. There are now almost 47 million cardholders.
  • Debit cards accounted for 50% of the value of UK retail sales.
  • Debit cards were used 2.7 billion times to acquire £184 billion of cash in the UK.

Internet card use

Consumer internet card spending

  • Online debit card spending passed online credit card spending for the first time. Debit card spending was £35 billion, compared to £34 billion on credit cards.
  • Total online card spending increased by £5 billion in 2012. Consumers spent £68 billion online last year - 15% of personal card spending.
  • Almost nine in ten used the internet for personal purposes in 2012, including 37% who did so using a mobile phone. 86% of users bought something online.
  • Online debit card volumes are almost one and a half times those of credit cards. Debit card volumes were 542 million in 2012, compared to 388 million credit card payments.

Card expenditure statistics

Card Expenditure Statistics reveal where credit, debit and charge cards are used in the UK. They are reported to The UK Cards Association by banks and other financial institutions, known as merchant acquirers, that process plastic card transactions on behalf of businesses and enterprises.

Spending is shown separately for debit and credit cards, by volume and by value, and the location is broken down into the principle UK retail and services sectors with a detailed analysis covering over 100 merchant categories across the full range of industries in the UK.


Detailed Sector Breakdown

The Detailed Sector Breakdown is an Excel spreadsheet that details the values and volumes of credit and debit card spending since January 2005. This document will be updated when the card expenditure statistics are updated (monthly).

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