Business credit card statistics

We explore recent trends in the use of business credit cards in the UK.

Using a business credit card is a popular choice for many companies and organisations, whether they are large corporations or small startups. We looked into the latest statistics to see how companies in the UK are using this form of borrowing.

Quick overview

  • Over 605,000 small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) are estimated to have used credit cards in 2022.
  • The percentage of SMEs using credit cards has fallen from 18% in 2019 to just 11% in 2022.
  • Credit card applications made up just 5% of external financing applications by SMEs between July 2021 and December 2022, compared to 50% for bank loans.
  • Core finance, including credit cards, has become less popular as a financing option for SMEs, having declined from 39% in 2019 to 26% in 2022.
  • How many businesses use credit cards?

    In 2022, only 11% of SMEs used credit cards, which equates to approximately 605,000 businesses. This proportion has fallen since 2019, where around 18%, or 990,000, used credit cards. However, the number of SMEs using credit cards has remained roughly the same between 2021 and 2022.

    Between 2014 and 2018, the average credit card use by SMEs was 15.6%. In comparison, the average credit card use from 2019-2022 was 13.2%. This demonstrates that overall credit card use has become less common amongst SMEs in recent years.

    Year Percentage of SMEs using credit cards
    2014 15%
    2015 16%
    2016 17%
    2017 16%
    2018 14%
    2019 18%
    2020 13%
    2021 11%
    2022 11%

    Number of business credit card applications

    Between July 2021 and December 2022, just 5% of applications for external finance by SMEs were for credit cards. Half the applications were for a bank loan, followed by 17% for an overdraft.

    Core product Percentage of SMEs applying for product
    Bank loan 50%
    Bank overdraft 17%
    Other loan 4%
    Leasing/hire purchase 6%
    Credit cards 5%
    Other overdraft 1%
    Comercial mortgage 2%
    Invoice finance 1%
    Other specified products 14%

    How do business credit cards compare to other types of borrowing?

    Credit cards are a relatively popular form of external finance. 11% of SMEs used credit cards in 2022. In comparison, 13% used bank loans/commercial mortgages and 10% used a bank overdraft.

    Core product Percentage of SMEs using product
    Bank overdraft 10%
    Bank loan/commercial mortgage 13%
    Credit cards 11%
    Any other loan 3%
    Leasing, hire purchase or vehicle finance 8%
    Loans/Equity from directors/family/friends 6%
    Invoice finance 1%
    Grants 9%

    Use of core finance (like credit cards, bank loans, bank overdrafts) has declined slightly in recent years. In 2019, 39% of SMEs used core finance, but in 2022, this was just 26%.

    20% of SMEs used other forms of finance in 2022, including leasing, invoice finance, loans from family/friends, etc. In 2019, this was just 16% and grew in both 2020 and 2021 to peak at 24%.

    Year Percentage of SMEs using core products
    2019 39.00%
    2020 29.00%
    2021 31.00%
    2022 26.00%

    How did the pandemic affect financing for SMEs?

    Following the pandemic, there have been lower rates of confidence in being approved for external finance options, such as business credit cards. Half of SMEs were confident of their application being successful in 2022, lower than pre-pandemic, where around 7 in 10 businesses were confident.

    Net confidence in being approved for external finance has varied significantly over time, but it was highest in the second half of 2021.

    Year Net confidence
    Q4 2020 8
    Q1 2021 1
    Q2 2021 -8
    Q3 2021 26
    Q4 2021 19
    Q1 2022 -1
    Q2 2022 1
    Q3 2022 12
    Q4 2022 21

    Government-backed schemes during the pandemic boosted success rates of applications for financing. This was primarily the result of the Bounce Bank Loan Scheme, which focused on providing loans for SMEs.

    Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

    Matt Mckenna
    UK Communications Manager
    T: +44 20 8191 8806

Written by

Emily Herring

Emily Herring is a Publisher at Finder specialising in credit-based products including credit cards and business and personal loans. Emily has recently joined the Investments team. She has a Masters in Creative Writing & Publishing and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication & Media. See full profile

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