UK card spending outstrips Europe

17 March 2004
The amount of money spent on credit cards in the UK is almost triple that spent across the rest of Europe.

Last year Britons spent £120 billion on plastic while the rest of the European Union spent just £40 billion, according to research by Mintel.

Additionally there are now more cards than people in the UK.

Mintel revealed that there are 63.9 million credit cards in the UK, with spending on the two biggest brands, Visa and Mastercard, jumping 76 per cent in six years.

Paul Davies of Mintel noted: "The fact that the British accounted for the majority of expenditure on credit cards in the EU clearly shows how different the attitude towards credit and borrowing money is.

"The British consumer is constantly bombarded with adverts for loans, purchasing on credit and credit cards, and it seems that debt has become just a part of life for many people in the UK.

"So it is hardly surprising that credit card spending is so high."

In Europe it is more common to spend on a debit card - thus avoiding heavy interest payments.