Page last updated at 10:51 GMT, Friday, 14 November 2008

'Surprise' leap in card spending

Plastic cards
Credit card costs have been rising, surveys suggest

Figures show a surprise increase in spending on debit and credit cards in the UK in September.

Some 497 million purchases were made on on debit cards in September, a 12.7% rise on the previous month, according to UK payments association Apacs.

Credit card purchases were also up, by 9.4%, during the same period, ahead of gross lending which rose by only 7.4%.

One theory is that consumers spent the 60 rebate received during September from changes following the 10p tax row.

The figures show that the total value, as well as the volume, of purchases was higher in September than during any month in the last year.

Blip?

Sandra Quinn, of Apacs, said the figures were not a sign that consumers were ignoring the economic slowdown and going on a spending spree.

Figures in September traditionally include some holiday spending at the end of August and this may explain the rise.

Another theory is that monthly figures are more susceptible to short-term blips in the data.

Andrew Hagger, personal finance spokesman at Moneynet, suggested that the 60 rebate enjoyed by about 22 million people in September might have been spent immediately.

Basic rate taxpayers are receiving a total tax saving of 120 after Chancellor Alistair Darling, under pressure from backbench MPs during the 10p tax row, brought in new measures affecting the personal allowance.

Millions of people had 60 less taken from their September pay packets and are seeing their net pay rise by 10 per month for the rest of this tax year.

Mr Hagger said another possibility was that homeowners who have decided not to move during the housing market slowdown could have been spending on home improvements.

There are 42 million debit card customers in the UK, while 31 million people have credit cards.

In the three months to the end of September, the value of spending on plastic cards in the UK was 7.3% higher than the same period a year earlier, Apacs said.

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