Credit and Debit Card Statistics – September 2016

14 November 2016 Press Release

View information release with charts and related data tables

Key Developments

  • In September 2016, total transactions on debit cards amounted to €4.2 billion. Debit card transactions have broadly trended upward since the post-Christmas low of €3.4 billion in January 2016. In September 2016 just under €2.6 billion of debit card spending was attributable to Point of Sale (PoS) activity, while the remaining €1.6 billion was accounted for by ATM transactions (Chart 1). For credit cards, PoS spending amounted to circa €894 million in the month.
  • Debit card e-commerce[1] expenditure has generally trended upward since February 2015 to stand at over €798 million at end-September 2016. Over 30 per cent of new PoS transactions were attributable to e-commerce at end September 2016. Similarly, total credit card e-commerce has increased by 30 per cent over the past year to stand at €409 million at end-September 2016.
  • Slightly under €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 credit limit. These proportions have remained virtually unchanged over the past year.
  • Total debit card expenditure outside Ireland averaged €312 million in the first nine months of 2016, compared with €264 million in same period in 2015 (Chart 4). Credit or debit card expenditure outside Ireland (when the physical card is present), provides an indication of expenditure abroad by Irish tourists. Debit card expenditure abroad peaked at €410 million in August 2016, an increase of 29 per cent on the same month a year earlier.  This jump was not reflected in credit card expenditure outside Ireland which has declined year-on-year for each month in 2016. The total value of debit card expenditure outside Ireland (including ATM transactions) is more than double the value of equivalent credit card expenditure.
  • The value of new PoS debit card spending per month was almost three times greater for debit cards than for credit cards at end-September 2016. Credit card expenditure remained stable, averaging €869 million over the year ending September 2016. PoS spending on debit cards increased by circa €434 million from same month a year earlier, to stand at just under €2.6 billion (Table 1). The majority of debit card expenditure occurs in the retail sector, where transactions valued over €1.2 billion were recorded in September 2016. In the services sector there has been a noticeable increase in expenditure on Health and Utilities over the past year.
  • Just over 74 per cent of all personal credit card expenditure at end-September 2016 was split between both the retail and services sectors (Chart 5).  Debit card expenditure in the retail sector accounted for just under half of all new debit card PoS 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.