UK credit card statistics
How are Brits using their credit cards?
If used correctly, credit cards can help you to spread out expenses month by month, earn rewards on day-to-day spending and improve your credit score. However, some people are reluctant to use their cards for fear of getting into debt.
We’ve collated the latest statistics on credit card lending, ownership, repayment and spending in the UK. Here’s what we found.
- As of January 2022, there were 59.9 million credit cards issued to UK residents, this is 4.8 million less than in January 2020 (64.7 million).
- There were 292 million credit card transactions in January 2022. This is a 48% increase from January 2021.
- Between 2021 and 2022 contactless payments increased by 80 million.
- One-fifth (21%) of consumers prefer to use credit cards for expensive items (£100+).
- The average value of purchases made using a credit card decreased by 9.8% (£6) between January 2020 (£61) and January 2022 (£55).
- As of February 2022 the average interest rate for credit cards was 18.3%.
Number of credit card accounts
In January 2022, there were 59.9 million credit cards issued to UK residents, an increase of 4.6 million from the previous year. However, between January 2020 to January 2022, there has been a decline of 4.8 million (7.4%) in credit cards issued in the UK.
This is considerably less than the 96.8 million debit cards issued to UK residents in January 2022.
|Credit cards||Debit cards|
|January 2022||59.9 million||96.8 million|
|January 2021||62.8 million||92.2 million|
|January 2020||64.7 million||97.3 million|
Number of credit card transactions
As of January 2022, the volume of credit card transactions has seen an increase of 96 million from the previous year. In January 2021, credit card transaction volumes had dropped by 31% (88 million) since January 2020. Credit card transaction volumes dipped to their lowest point in April 2020.
This could be explained by the national lockdown introduced on 16 March 2020. Levels also dipped in February 2021. Contactless credit card transactions are undoubtedly popular. On average across 2020, contactless credit card transactions accounted for 40% of all credit card transactions. Following this trend, between 2021 and 2022 contactless credit card transactions increased by 80 million.
Our recent survey found that 1 in 5 (21%) Brits would use a credit card for an expensive purchase (100+).
|Volume of credit card transactions||Contactless credit card transaction|
|Jan-20||284 million||128 million|
|Feb-20||275 million||126 million|
|Mar-20||273 million||108 million|
|Apr-20||163 million||32 million|
|May-20||186 million||60 million|
|Jun-20||227 million||76 million|
|Jul-20||261 million||106 million|
|Aug-20||273 million||123 million|
|Sep-20||281 million||125 million|
|Oct-20||273 million||122 million|
|Nov-20||273 million||95 million|
|Dec-20||291 million||114 million|
|Jan-21||196 million||71 million|
|Feb 21||202 million||74 million|
|Mar 21||257 million||97 million|
|Apr 21||259 million||116 million|
|May 21||282 million||133 million|
|Jun 21||310 million||147 million|
|Jul 21||313 million||155 million|
|Aug 21||335 million||160 million|
|Sep 21||322 million||161 million|
|Oct 21||319 million||168 million|
|Nov 21||354 million||174 million|
|Dec 21||351 million||180 million|
|Jan 22||292 million||151 million|
Credit card lending and repayments, monthly 1993–2022
Gross lending statistics were collected monthly from April 1993 to February 2022 and repayment statistics from January 2010 to February 2022. Throughout the latter period, the 2 statistics follow similar trajectories, with repayments always lower than lending, as expected.
Between February 2019 and February 2022, gross lending saw an decrease of 27%, with repayments increasing by 20%. Compared to the beginning of 2010, when credit card repayment data was first collected, it has increased by 18%, whereas gross lending has increased by an enormous 82%.
Volume and average value of credit card transactions
The average value of transactions stayed fairly level over the year (2021). During this time, the average value of each credit card transaction was £52. The average value per transaction has not reached pre-pandemic levels, when the average transaction value was £61 in January 2020.
Between January 2021 and January 2022 the volume of transactions increased from £198 million per month to £292 million per month. This is a 48% increase in the year.
|Year||Volume of transactions||Average value per transaction|
What credit cards are people searching for?
Our data shows that a third of searches (33%) for credit cards on our website are related to credit cards related to bad credit. These could be cards that help with building up your credit score or cards that are most likely to accept applications from people who currently have a low credit score.
Almost 1 in 10 (8%) searches are for travel credit cards. These cards can have a variety of benefits ranging from perks like lounge access, to complimentary travel insurance. Interestingly, only 1 in 20 (4.9%) searches are for credit cards with rewards benefits, which are used by credit card companies to attract new customers to use their services.
|Balance transfers purchase||3.60%|
Average outstanding credit card balance
Your outstanding balance is the money you’ve borrowed but are yet to repay. Between January 2021 and January 2022, the average outstanding balance has decreased by 2.1%. Between January 2020 and January 2021, both the average outstanding credit card balance and the number of accounts with outstanding balances increased gradually. At their individual peaks in this time period, the average outstanding credit card balance was £1,829 (January 2020) and there were 38.7 million accounts with outstanding balances (February 2020). As of January 2022, 35.2 million accounts had outstanding balances.
|Date||Accounts with balances outstanding at the end of the calendar month||Average outstanding credit card balance|
Credit card rewards in the UK
Credit card companies can offer valuable rewards — cashback, free trips and discounts, among many others. These rewards can be very attractive, with 51.2% of cardholders swiping or tapping just to be rewarded. We have taken a closer look at who is most likely to use these cards, how much they spend on them and what kinds of purchases they make in order to reap the benefits of the cards.
|Spent on a credit card only for the rewards||51.24%|
|Has not spent on a credit card only for the rewards||48.76%|
Our study of 2,000 Brits in 2020 revealed that cardholders spent an average £1,554.47 each chasing points in the past year, adding up to an estimated £23.9 billion in total. We’re most likely to spend this money on food and drinks (51.7%), but clothing and accessories (47.5%) and household items (40.5%) aren’t far behind.
|Credit card purchases for rewards programme||Percentage|
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