How we pay in the UK: Contactless cards make up 20% of all card transactions

Contactless cards made up 22% of all card transactions in the UK in September, according to the latest figures from the UK Card Association. Payment card spending grew by 0.6 per cent in September to reach £54.7 billion. 

In the three months to the end of September card spending increased by £4.4 billion, or 2.8% compared to the previous quarter, with a 103m more purchases.

Internet purchases make up 13% of card transactions, an increase of 1% on last year. Spending online accounts for nearly a quarter (23%) of the total value. It will be interesting to see how November’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday affect these figures, with reports suggesting that large amounts of people ignored in-store shopping, electing instead to shop online.


Source: UKCA

In terms of average value of transactions on payment cards, it’s the same story as before: AVT continues to decrease – now down to £43.45. That’s well below the level of a year ago (£45.51). The ATV for debit cards decreased by 3p to £39.90. This AVT decrease has been consistent since 2011 and the UKCA believes that increasing use of contactless payments is one of the main drivers of this change. Other factors include supermarkets competing with each other to offer the lowest prices.

It’s a similar trend in online payments where the ATV for online spending on all payment cards stood at “a record low” of £80.78, down from £81.12 in August. That is primarily down to the on-the-go nature of internet devices such as mobile: smartphones and tablets, which drive the consumer’s preference to buy lower value products while on the move.

The ATV on contactless cards also decreased, to £8.81, down by 16p on August.


Richard Koch, Head of Policy at The UK Cards Association, said:

“We’re making over three million more card transactions every day compared to September last year, with contactless and online payments playing a significant role. 

“While the annual growth in card spending has slowed, the rate still far outstrips GDP growth as card payments become an increasingly important part of how the UK transacts.”

Related reading