Debit card statistics

How Brits are using their debit cards.

Debit cards are the bread and butter of banking, allowing you to spend the balance of your current account without borrowing (unless you have an overdraft of course). They are an extremely versatile and popular way of spending, so we decided to investigate how we Brits are using our debit cards.

Quick stats

  • In 2017, debit cards overtook cash in the UK as the most common method of payment.
  • As of September 2019, 97 million debit cards were in circulation in the UK, 84 million of which were contactless.
  • Back in 2019, nearly a third (29%) of Brits wanted the contactless limit to be no higher than £50. Over a quarter (28%) were content with the £30 cap, while 6% said that contactless payments should not be allowed.
  • 1.6 billion transactions were carried out on debit cards by UK cardholders in September 2019. This was 10.4% more than in September 2018.
  • The total value of transactions made with debit cards in September 2019 was £51.1 billion. This was 2.0% more than in September 2018.
  • 98% of the population holds a debit card.
  • By 2024, it’s expected that debit cards will be responsible for half of all payments made in the UK.

Purchases on debit cards

    Between September 2019 and September 2018, the number of purchases on debit cards has increased by 10.4%. This is equivalent to 166.4 million more purchases made in September 2019 (1.6 billion) than in September 2018 (1.43 billion).
    Month Purchases on debit cardsby UK card holders (billions)
    May 18 1.371
    Jun 18 1.386
    Jul 18 1.398
    Aug 18 1.409
    Sep 18 1.418
    Oct 18 1.425
    Nov 18 1.433
    Dec 18 1.442
    Jan 19 1.452
    Feb 19 1.463
    Mar 19 1.475
    Apr 19 1.487
    May 19 1.500
    Jun 19 1.512
    Jul 19 1.522
    Since September 2018, the value of purchases made on debit cards has increased by £1.02 billion (2.0%). In September 2019, the total value of purchases made on debit cards by UK cardholders was £51.1 billion. Despite increasing over summer and autumn, interestingly during the winter months, the value of purchases took a dip. Over the last year, spending on debit cards reached its lowest point in January 2019 (£49.73 billion).
    Month Value of purchases in billions
    May 18 £49.73
    Jun 18 £49.89
    Jul 18 £49.99
    Aug 18 £50.14
    Sep 18 £50.18
    Oct 18 £50.09
    Nov 18 £49.94
    Dec 18 £49.79
    Jan 19 £49.73
    Feb 19 £49.80
    Mar 19 £49.98
    Apr 19 £50.19
    May 19 £50.38
    Jun 19 50.539
    Jul 19 50.671

    Contactless debit cards

      Over two thirds (69%) of Brits used contactless technology while spending with their card in 2018. In the UK there are 97 million debit cards in circulation and 84 million of these (86.6%) are contactless. By July 2019 there were 131 million contactless cards in total in circulation in the UK, of which 64.12% were debit cards.
      Percentage Number of debit cards (million)
      Contactless debit cards 86.60% 84
      Non-contactless debit cards 13.40% 13

      Debit cards for children

      If you are under 18 years old you will need help from a parent or a legal guardian to get your hands on a debit card. If you’re looking to monitor your child’s (6-18 year’s old) spending GoHenry could be a great option. GoHenry specialises in debit cards for under 18s where the guardian can use an application to monitor the child’s or teen’s spending. But if you are looking for an average current account fear not, many banks offer children’s accounts and also debit cards.
      Bank Age limit Name of account
      Santander 13 years
      HSBC: 7 years MySavings account
      Monzo 16 years
      Revolut Planning to launch accounts for children
      N26 No children’s account available
      Natwest 11 years Adapt account
      Halifax 11 years ExpressCash account
      NationWide 16 years FlexOne account
      Lloyds Bank 11 years Under 19s account
      Barclays 11 years BarclayPlus

      Common frauds and how to prevent them

      Cases of fraud are becoming more and more common. In 2018, £641.4 billion was lost thanks to fraud in the UK, a 16% increase from the year before. Luckily, £1.66 billion worth of fraudulent transactions were prevented. Some fraudulent scams are very well designed and seem completely legitimate so you can never be too careful. To prevent becoming a victim of fraud, never share your bank details on social media, text messages, emails or over the phone. If you suspect that your bank details might have ended up in the wrong hands, call your bank immediately so they can act quickly and do something about it.
      Here are the most common frauds and how to avoid them.
      • Skimming
      • Is when fraudsters make a copy of someone’s card. To prevent having your card skimmed, make sure all card machines that you use are legitimate. If there’s anything on the screen that doesn’t look right, or if where you insert your card looks loose or in any way tampered with, don’t put your card in. Whilst using your card cover the numbers when entering your pin code to stop lurkers from seeing.
      • Stolen cards
      • Unfortunately, it can be hard to prevent having your card stolen as pickpockets can be both fast and almost invisible. If someone does steal your card cancel it immediately by calling your bank, it might be a good idea to add the bank’s number in your mobile phone just in case. Alternatively some banks will allow you to cancel your card on their online platform or through their app.
      • Phishing
      • This is when you get an email, text message or a call from fraudsters pretending to be well-known companies requesting your bank details. Often they will give a reason such as needing to update your information or checking the information they “already have” is correct. For example, an email may say that they need you to update your payment details, the information you give them will then be used for unauthorized purchases. If you think you have received a dodgy phone call compare the number you received a call from to the company’s phone number online, you can also call them to ask if they actually tried to contact you. If you have been contacted by email compare the content and email address to emails that you have received from the company before.
        Even if the email seems legit whenever you are submitting your bank details check that the connection is secure. To check this, look at the top left corner of the website’s URL . If there’s a padlock symbol, you can click on the padlock to see more information. To be absolutely sure you’re not being phished contact the company yourself.

      Picture not described


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

      Matt Mckenna
      Head of UK Communications
      T: +44 20 8191 8806

      Related articles

      How to get a credit card as a new UK resident

      How to get a credit card as a new UK resident

      If you’re a new UK resident, learn more about the steps you should take to help you get a credit card.

      Read more…
      How to consolidate credit card debt

      How to consolidate credit card debt

      If you’ve a lot of credit card debt to repay, consolidating it into one place with one monthly repayment could make your life a lot easier.

      Read more…
      Top ethical credit cards

      Top ethical credit cards

      Learn more about how ethical credit cards work and whether they are right for you.

      Read more…
      Halifax Cashback Credit Card review 2022

      Halifax Cashback Credit Card review 2022

      With no annual fee, the Halifax Cashback Credit Card could be a good option for those looking to earn something back on their spending.

      Read more…
      Virgin Money 18 Month Balance Transfer Credit Card review 2022

      Virgin Money 18 Month Balance Transfer Credit Card review 2022

      Read more…
      Barclaycard Platinum 30 Month Balance Transfer Credit Card review 2022

      Barclaycard Platinum 30 Month Balance Transfer Credit Card review 2022

      Read more…

      More guides on Finder

      Ask an Expert

      You are about to post a question on

      • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
      • is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
      • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
      • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

      By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

      Questions and responses on are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
      Go to site