Consumer Payment Card News

Xmas 99 Card Usage

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American consumers will rack up a record $126.5 billion on credit and debit cards this holiday season. General purpose credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, Discover and American Express) will account for $92.6 billion of the total holiday charges. Retail store and gasoline cards (Sears, JCPenney, Exxon, etc.) will account for $15.1 billion of the total holiday charges. General purpose debit cards (VISA Check Card and MasterCard’s MasterMoney Card) will account for $18.8 billion of the total holiday charges.

During the 29 day period between the holidays, Americans will swipe their credit cards more than 1.6 billion times, charging an average of $3.7 billion in purchasesper day or $156 million each hour. For the peak shopping days of Nov 26, Nov 27 and Dec 24,consumers will use their credit cards more than 7,000 times per seco nd generating charges of nearly $500,000 per second.

Debit cards, issued by VISA or MasterCard, will continue to soar in popularity this holiday season as consumers will use such cards about 499 million times, debiting their checking or savings account for an average of $37.68 per transaction. Last year Americans used debit cards approximately 354 million times during the Christmas shopping season. Debit card use in the U.S.A. is growing 43% annually.

Online shopping will take hold this year as the fastest growing area of credit and debit card use. American consumers will charge nearly $12 billion of online holiday sales on credit and debit cards.

“Prepaid gift cards and digital wallets will also emerge as popular ways to pay or give this holiday season” says Robert B. McKinley, Chief Executive Officer of, Inc.

Californians will continue to be the most active card users, charging more than $15.6 billion on major credit cards and store cards. Cardholders in the Northeast will lead the nation by posting $23.1 billion to their charge plates.

While consumers will put more than $100 billion on credit cards during the December billing period, more than $80 billion will be paid off by the end of January. According to’s CardData service, American consumers currently owe $456 billion on bank credit cards and $92 billion on store cards.

Compared to the 1998 Christmas holiday shopping season, credit card use is up 17.8% this year, 1.66 billion transactions for 1999 versus 1.41 billion transactions last year. Debit card usage over the holiday period has increased 40.1%, from 354 million transactions last year to 499 million for 1999. For 1998, Americans charged $83.0 billion to major, general purpose credit cards; $14.3 billion to retail credit cards; and $13.2 billion to general purpose debit cards.

1999 Christmas Holiday Payment Card Statistics

     (for period between 11/26/99 and 12/24/99 inclusive)

                       Purchases          Transactions        Avg. Ticket
 Major Credit Cards    $92.6 billion      1,400 million       $66.14
 Store Credit Cards    $15.1 billion      260 million         $58.08
 Natl Debit Cards      $18.8 billion      499 million         $37.68
 Total                 $126.5 billion     2,159 million       $53.97

notes above figures exclude cash advance transactions; Major Credit
Cards includes Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express credit and charge cards; Store
Credit Cards includes proprietary or private-label cards issued by/for retail stores and
gasoline companies; National Debit Cards includes VISA and MasterCard-branded off-line or
signature-based debit cards and excludes debit cards issued by regional EFT systems.

Holiday Card Purchases By The Clock

                     Per Day      Per Hour     Per Min        Per Sec
Major Credit Cards   $3.19 b      $132.9 m     $2.2m          $36,921
Store Credit Cards   $ 521 m      $ 21.7 m     $361,805       $6,030
Natl Debit Cards     $ 648 m      $ 27.0 m     $450,000       $7,500
Total                $4.36 b      $181.6 m     $3.01m         $50,451

 Holiday Card Transactions By The Clock

                      Per Day       Per Hour     Per Min       Per Sec
Major Credit Cards    48.3 m        2.01 m       33,525         559
Store Credit Cards     9.0 m        373,563      6,226          104
Natl Debit Cards      17.2 m        716,954      11,949         199
Total                 74.5 m        3.1 m        51,700         862

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