Spending on shopping and entertainment soars, but credit cards left at home

New figures from Central Bank show consumers using debit, rather than credit cards

The total number of debit cards in circulation rose to more than five million in June

The total number of debit cards in circulation rose to more than five million in June


The boom is back but this time we’re all being a little bit more sensible, or at least that’s what new Central Bank figures seem to suggest.

New statistics show that while people are spending more in restaurants and shops, most are opting to pay with debit, rather than credit cards.

The data reveals the total number of debit cards in circulation rose to more than five million in June, the highest number ever recorded. However, it should be noted that an estimated 685,000 of these cards were not in active use.

The Central Bank said there was significant growth in debit card expenditure across all categories. Retail spending was particularly pronounced though, rising by 18 per cent or €253 million compared with June 2017. Expenditure in the broader services sector was up 15 per cent, with restaurant/dining transactions increasing by 23 per cent.

Credit card spending

New debit card transactions, which include ATM transactions, increased by 6 per cent to €5.8 billion compared with the same month a year earlier.

Debit card point of sale (PoS) transactions meanwhile rose by 8 per cent to €3.1 billion and accounted for 54 per cent of all transactions.

Credit card spending also rose during June versus the same month in 2017 but at a far slower pace, climbing by €13.5 million or 2 per cent. Overall, debit card PoS expenditure equated to roughly 3½ times the value of credit card spending.

Spending in the retail, services and social sectors via credit cards rose by about 5 per cent in the year. The utilities sub-category recorded the highest growth in expenditure, up 12 per cent. Other notable increases included the education, transport and restaurants/dining sub-categories.


In total, 77 per cent of credit card spending was split between the retail and services sectors in June. In comparison, expenditure in the retail sector accounted for 53 per cent of all debit card PoS spending.

The Central Bank said total e-commerce expenditure also rose in the year to June, increasing by 13 per cent to just over €1.4 billion.

Of this, €1 billion and €412 million is attributable to debit cards and credit cards respectively.

E-commerce now accounts for 21 per cent of all debit card expenditure and 45 per cent of all credit card purchases, the Central Bank said.