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Consumers spend more on credit cards than in previous years

October 14, 2013

As U.S. consumers continue to recover from the effects of the recession, it is possible they will spend more on their electronic cards than they have in previous years - illustrating the need for business owners to optimize their ability to accept electronic payments.

As U.S. consumers continue to recover from the effects of the recession, it is possible they will spend more on their electronic cards than they have in previous years – illustrating the need for business owners to optimize their ability to accept electronic payments.

Consumers spent more on their credit cards in 2012 than they had in previous years – possibly through newer modes of payment, such as mobile credit card processing and online credit card processing terminals – according to a recent report from MasterCard. Consumers increased their credit spending by more than 8 percent during the past year, contributing to a boost in credit volume of more than $170 billion.

Many of these shoppers were spending on their credit cards when they had previously been spending on their debit cards. While the debit industry grew by almost $130 billion in 2012, there was also an $8 billion shift in volume directly from debit cards to credit cards. 

“In the early years of the financial crisis, there was approximately $141 billion that shifted from credit to debit card spending,” said Nitin Sumangali, the author of the report and an analyst in the Global Insights group at MasterCard. “Now that financial circumstances have improved, the tide has turned back to increased credit spending and borrowing – a trend that MasterCard first spotted in 2011.”

However, while consumers are shifting their spending to credit card outlets, Sumangali was quick to note that credit payments are not being made in place of payments made with debit cards. 

“It’s not that debit cards and credit cards are necessarily replacing one another,” said Sumangali, “Rather our research indicates that as consumers become less fearful about their financial situation, they feel more confident about their ability to use credit and debit cards as complementary tools to manage their money. Regarding credit, debit and prepaid, it has never been a zero-sum game.”

One of the reasons that consumers may be using their credit cards more often is the rewards systems that often accompany credit plans. More than 50 percent of consumers noted they used their credit cards during 2012 because they offered rewards, according to the report. 

Findings supported by the Federal Reserve
The suggestion that consumers have been spending more than usual at the credit card terminal is backed up by recent findings from the Federal Reserve. Consumer credit rose $10.4 billion during July, according to the Reserve, representing an annual growth rate of 4.4 percent. 

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