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Debit Cards Actually Beat Credit Cards This Christmas

February 24, 2015

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Every year we hear countless news stories about how consumers are getting into increasing levels of debt. This is especially relevant towards the end of the year as Christmas approaches and people find themselves low on cash but needing to pay for presents and the like.

Indeed, many will have heard the old myth about how consumers use one, two or even three of their credit cards to splurge on gifts, travel and other festive treats, generally funding their seasonal lifestyles.

However, recent figures from the UK Cards Association appear to go against this common trend. When asked about the myth, the Head of Policy at The UK Cards Association, Richard Koch said “the reality is really quite different. Shoppers would still much prefer to pay using their debit card and there has been no spike in credit card spending as some commentators had predicted.”

The Christmas of 2014 saw consumers using their debit cards a lot more than their credit cards, which most certainly dispels the well-reported myth that shoppers were getting themselves into money trouble in order to pay for their Christmas festivities.

Traditionally, people do tend to spend a lot in November and 2014 was no different, with over £34.4 billion being spent on Black Friday, which fell on 28th November. This money came from debit cards though, not credit, which ‘only’ accounted for £14.1 billion.

The rate of growth in credit card spending actually fell in November to 4%, compared to the average increase of 4.7% since the beginning of 2014. The rate of growth for debit card spending, on the other hand, increased by 7.4%.

We can really see the vast difference between use of credit cards in comparison to debit when we place the number of transactions side by side; there were 241 million credit card payments in November, which is a lot but pales in comparison to the 799 million debit card transactions that were made.

Although debit card spending seems to be storming ahead of credit card spending, The UK Cards Association’s data shows that the growth rate for both credit and debit actually decreased towards the end of the year following the month of April when it hit its peak at 7.5%. This actually stood at 6.4%, which was the lowest it had been for fourteen months. Access the full report from The UK Cards Association.