Debit card spending exceeds cash for first time in UK history


Spending on plastic has overtaken cash payment this year.

Fewer cash payments were made in the last 12 months as debit card usage increased.

Debit card spending has surpassed cash spending over the course of 2010 for the first time in the UK.

Data revealed by the UK Payments Council found that debit card spending figures reached a peak of £272 billion in the 12 months to October, where as £269 billion was spent in cash.

Credit card usage remained at the same level, according to Council’s statistics, which are released every quarter.

Sandra Quinn of the Payments Council said: “Cash is too cumbersome for many consumers these days – they prefer a card for anything more than the smallest transactions. We now expect our debit cards to be accepted everywhere we go – in pubs and clubs, at the corner shop, online and on the High Street”.

The rise in debit card usage was attributed in part to the August Bank holiday where spending on plastic overtook the use of cash.

The report also found that there were 1.6 million more debit card transactions on a daily basis between the months of July and September compared with the same period in 2009 marking an 11% rise in spending figures.

The number of cash machine withdrawals also fell in addition to the use of cheques as a method of payment. Over 100 million fewer cheques were written in the UK in the 12 months leading to October signalling the steady demise of the cheque as a preferred payment method by British consumers.

The Council has said that cheques will be phased out by 2018 as long as spenders have an adequate alternative.