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Consumer spending with our flexible friends passes £500 billion for first time

Consumers' annual spending on cards topped £500 billion for the first time across 2013, a report has found.

Debit and credit cards accounted for three in every four pounds spent in shops, up from two in every four just a decade ago, according to the figures published by trade body the UK Cards Association.

The UK Card Payments report found that Britons spent £520 billion on UK goods and services using their debit and credit cards last year, marking a 6.7% increase compared with the £488 billion spent over 2012.

When spending by overseas visitors was added, the total value of purchases on debit and credit cards in 2013 was £534 billion, meaning that spending on cards now constitutes one third (33%) of the UK's total GDP, up from around one quarter (22%) of GDP in 2003, the report said.

Debit cards can now be found in the wallets of 91% of UK adults, with a total of 47.5 million cardholders. This is around half a million more cardholders than in 2012, and the report said that an "increased proliferation" of bank accounts that automatically issue a debit card has driven much of the increase in recent years.

The average transaction value for all debit card purchases in 2013 stood at £44.02 and the average debit card was used to make 94 purchases in 2013.

In 2013 there were 30.1 million credit and charge card holders, around 60% of all UK adults. The typical credit card transaction was valued at £69.49 in 2013.

Over 80% of all credit and charge card spending in 2013 was made by cardholders who repaid the balance in full. The report said that in a reflection of people's desire to pay down debt where they can, outstanding borrowing on credit cards has fallen by 15.6% from a monthly average peak of £67.4 billion in 2005 to £56.4 billion in 2013.

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