Credit card spending gains in share against debit cards for first time in decades

November 12, 2013

For more than 20 years, debit card purchasing volume has been gaining share when compared with credit card spending.

For more than 20 years, debit card purchasing volume has been gaining share when compared with credit card spending. However, consumers have started using their credit cards at card processing terminals more often over recent months and years.

The Nilson Report recently announced that spending for goods and services via commercial electronic cards reached $4.633 trillion in 2012, and was projected to reach more than $7.2 billion by 2017. Credit cards amounted for 52.8 percent of this spending in 2012, while debit cards accounted for approximately 47.2 percent. Credit card spending, however, is expected to account for up to 54.72 percent by the year 2017, illustrating the increase in market share the cards are experiencing. 

“There is a finite amount of money in deposit accounts owned by consumers,” said David Robertson, publisher of the report. “Credit cards are different. Because they can borrow money and pay it back over time, they can spend more on credit than they have in their own accounts.”

Debit cards had been gaining in market share for more than 20 years, according to the report. The streak ends as a result of the statistics recorded during 2012. 

Another study looks at preferences for credit card users
Another recent study, conducted by, analyzed the habits of holiday shoppers in conjunction with in-store and online credit card processing terminals. The report noted that more than 43 percent of Americans don’t plan to change their spending habits this winter, but almost one out of every seven shoppers will sign up for a branded credit card to help obtain discounts and control spending.

Credit card spending habits also varied across lines of gender. Men are more than three times more likely to split their holiday spending across two or more credit cards, according to The region of the country that shoppers are stationed in plays a major role as well: Rocky Mountain residents, for example, will be paying with credit cards more often than shoppers in any other region of the country, with one-third of area respondents planning to increase credit card usage this winter.

Credit card use has become a constant factor across shoppers of all demographics and in all regions, however, so retail outlets would do best to ensure they’re prepared to accept transactions made using the cards this holiday season. 

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