Half of credit card holders believe a physical card will be gone within five years

23rd June 2022

The average credit card holder in the UK believes they will continue to use a physical card for just nine and a half more years, according to new report by finder.com.

The figure is quite consistent across all age groups, ranging from millennials who expect to keep using them for under 9 years, all the way through to the silent generation who estimate the figure at around 11 and a half years.

Across all ages, 37% of card holders believe they will stop using their physical card within 5 years, while a further 1 in 10 (9%) only use their card via their phone or watch (via payment methods like Apple or Google Pay), and 4% use virtual credit cards like Bits.
This means that half (50%) of all credit card customers don’t plan to be using a physical card at all within 5 years.

While those among gen Z and millennials who have a physical card expect to use it for about as long as their older counterparts, there are noticeably fewer of them. When asked what method they would be most likely to use to pay for an expensive item (£100+), just 1 in 10 (9%) and 1 in 8 (12%) respectively would use a physical credit card, as opposed to 3 in 10 (29%) baby boomers and 2 in 5 (41%) of the silent generation.

In terms of the number of cards held, figures from UK Finance show there were 59 million credit cards in issue in February 2022, down from 63 million in 2021 and 66 million in 2020.

Physical credit cards also appear to be losing their prestige with consumers. When asked what they consider to be the coolest method of paying, the same survey respondents said that paying with a phone or watch were the coolest ways (18%). In contrast, metal, personalised and see-through cards got just 6% each, gold cards got 5% and vertical cards got 4%.

Commenting on the findings, Rachel Wait who wrote an industry report featuring experts’ insights alongside the new research for finder.com, said “It is clear that credit cards don’t hold the same cachet with consumers as they once did. Not only are they declining in use but the fact that consumers actively find paying with a phone or watch to be cooler shows they are no longer a status symbol.”

“Although currently, just 4% of Brits use virtual credit cards instead of physical ones, this number will no doubt grow as consumers are drawn to their new features and the convenience of using your phone for everything.”