A hallmark of economic turbulence is the paying down of debts, as consumers look for a more secure financial footing.
This may have manifested itself in one statistic recently published by the UK Cards Association, in its UK Plastic Cards Report 2013.
Among the facts and figures contained within the report is a section on internet card usage – and here, the organisation notes that debit cards were used online more than credit cards in 2012.
Some £35 billion of debit card transactions were processed online over the course of the year, compared with £34 billion spent on credit cards.
This small difference is still significant, as it is the first time debit card spending has surpassed credit card spending for a full year’s figures.
Interestingly, the total spent was almost exactly double that seen across both credit and debit cards in 2007, when £34 billion was spent during the full year.
Debit wins out even more in terms of transaction numbers, as some of the built-in protection for high-value purchases made using credit cards may be at work.
This leads to just 388 million credit card payments within the £34 billion total, roughly £88 per transaction, while the £35 billion of debit card spending was made across 542 million transactions, an average of just £65 per transaction.
It seems likely that consumers are living within their means as far as possible, with a high number of small-value transactions made using debit cards.
However, where the insurances built into credit card contracts make it sensible to run up some debt in return for automatic protection on the transaction, savvy shoppers are still prepared to do so.