News & Features


Credit cards remain irresistible to most people

With outstanding debt soaring by 62% during the past four years, according to a new report is seems credit cards remain irresistible to most people in the UK.

There are 65 million cards in circulation - up 58% over the past four years and market analyst Datamonitor says £53.5bn is currently owed on credit cards which is an average of more than £1,100 per adult in the UK.

The group said the strong growth in cards suggests UK consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with using them, and shows the market has defied predictions that it was becoming saturated.

It also suggests that the highly competitive market is likely to keep credit card payments affordable.

Author of the report Kieran Hines said: "The competitiveness of the credit card market will continue to provide consumers with low rate balance transfer options and competitive standard rates, and this will allow the financially aware to keep their interest payments low."

But he added that any sudden increase in the Bank of England's base rate would put pressure on mortgage repayments and may have a knock-on effect on the ability of some people to repay their credit cards.

Despite the high levels of debt people have already accumulated, Datamonitor expects the use of credit cards to continue to grow.

It forecasts that by 2008 there will be nearly 91 million credit cards in circulation, with the value of total transactions soaring by more than 42% to £157bn.