Over the last 40 years since their first introduction, credit cards have rapidly become one of the most used methods of payment for goods and services. This summer it is predicted that in the UK there will be a 35 percent increase in spending using plastic between the months of July and September compared with the same period last year. Many financial analysts believe that as soon as online shopping carts and credit cards can effectively process micro payments then cash is set to quickly become a thing of the past.
It seems as though credit cards have come a long way since the first Barclaycard credit card was introduced by Barclays in June 1966.
Back in 1966 half the UK population did not even possess a basic bank account, and the first cash machine was not opened until a year later, in 1967. Today there are an estimated 32 million credit card holders in the UK alone. The latest figures from APACS, the UK payment association, indicate that the average card holder now owes a total of £ 1772 on their credit card spending alone.
According to a quote on Moneynet.co.uk credit card news by Patrick Muir of Morgan Stanley, "The increase in spending levels year-on-year demonstrates the rise in comfort levels in buying both big ticket and everyday purchases on credit cards. are also becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to being rewarded for the purchases they make and with a raft of schemes available, from high street discounts to cashback, spending on credit cards is becoming more appealing than debit cards. "
While 24 percent of card purchases have been spent on groceries, this summer has also seen one of the largest increases in credit card spending on trips abroad, where people have typically paid out an additional £ 110 more than 12 months ago.
The UK seems to have become a thoroughly plastic society, with consumers now using the security and flexibility that completing sales using debit and credit cards has to offer, reaching 6.2 billion transactions last year being made by card in the UK and abroad. The predictions are that plastic cards are set to increase even further over the next few years with increased online spending, greater retail usage, and with less traditional providers offering their own financial services to customers. With the use of 'physical' money, in the form of cash, rapidly reducing in its importance, it looks as though the analysts could be proved correct; maybe the completely cashless society is not that far off.