Credit and Debit Card Statistics: May 2016

14 July 2016 Press Release

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Key Developments

In May 2016, total transactions on debit cards reached €4.2 billion, the highest recorded figure since December 2015. Just over €2.6 billion of this spending was attributable to Point of Sale (PoS) activity, while the remaining €1.6 billion was accounted for by ATM transactions (Chart 1). Debit card transactions have continued on an upward trend since the post-Christmas low of €3.4 billion in January. In the same month, PoS spending on all credit cards amounted to circa €876 million.

Debit card e-commerce1 expenditure has generally trended upward since February 2015. Debit card e-commerce has risen by 22 per cent over the year, to stand at €691 million at end-May 2016. Total credit card e-commerce has increased by 30 per cent since February 2016 to €379 million at end-May 2016.

Slightly over €1.2 billion of outstanding credit card balances included an accrued interest component. Chart 3 provides a breakdown of interest-bearing balances as a percentage of credit card limits. This shows that 8 per cent of cards have exceeded their credit limit while 36 per cent had balances between 76 and 100 per cent of their respective credit limit. This proportion has remained virtually unchanged over the past year, although there has been a small increase in the number of personal credit cards in issue during the same period.

The value of new PoS debit card spending per month was almost three times greater for debit cards than for credit cards at end-May 2016. Credit card expenditure remained stable, averaging €871 million over the year ending May 2016. During the same period, PoS spending on debit cards increased by circa €671 million, to stand at over €2.6 billion (Table 1). In terms of sectoral spending, the majority of debit card expenditure occurs in the retail sector, where transactions valued over €1.3 billion were recorded in May 2016. The education sector is the only one to experience a decrease in expenditure in May 2016 compared to May 2015.

Just over 73 per cent of all personal credit card expenditure at end-May 2016 was split between both the retail and services sectors (Chart 4). Over the same period, debit card expenditure in the retail sector accounted for over half of all new debit card PoS transactions.

Total debit card expenditure outside Ireland averaged €279 million over the 12-month period to end-May 2016 (Chart 5). Credit or debit card expenditure outside Ireland (when the physical card is present), provides an indication of the volume of tourism abroad vis-à-vis Irish residents. Debit card expenditure abroad increased to €307 million during May the highest since August 2015. This jump was not reflected in credit card expenditure outside Ireland which has remained relatively unchanged since December 2015. The value of debit card expenditure outside Ireland is generally higher than the equivalent credit card transactions, reflecting the inclusion of ATM transactions.


The primary aim of the data collected in the CDR (Credit/Debit Card Return) return is to inform national and euro-area policy making, and to enhance understanding of the role of credit/debit cards in the domestic financial system. Only euro-denominated credit/debit cards issued to Irish residents are included in the compilation of the CDR data.  Monthly CDR data is derived from a sample of reporting entities heavily engaged in the provision of credit/debit services to Irish residents.

The CDR sectoral breakdown is compiled referencing the MCC code system for credit/debit card transactions.  A merchant category code (MCC) is generally a four-digit number assigned to a business by credit card companies (e.g. American Express, MasterCard or Visa) when an entity first begins to accept one of these cards as a form of payment. The MCC is used to classify the business by the type of goods or services it typically provides.


1 Expenditure where the physical credit or debit card is not present provides a proxy for e-commerce.